Methodology in Seeking Knowledge: Prepare for Salafi Conferences – Spubs B’ham & GTown Philadelphia
بسم الله الرحن الرحيم
We demonstrate our gratitude to Allah for facilitating the organisation of the upcoming Salafi conferences at al-Masjid as-Salafi in Birmingham [SalafiPublications] as well as Germantown Philadelphia [Masjid as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah], as we ask Allah to place ease into being able to benefit from them. It is upon this point we present some of the statements and advice of the scholars regarding the methodology in seeking knowledge. Indeed, many of our brothers and sisters will strive to make the effort to travel lengthy distances to attend, it is imperative that after such lengthy journeys – or perhaps not, in both cases – that the individual returns having acquired the maximum possible level of benefit from the event.
The First Affair: Purifying the Intention.
Knowledge is sought sincerely for Allah, to remove the ignorance from oneself, his/her family and the people. It is sought in order to realise the fear of Allah and to implement and act upon it. It is not sought for the praise of the on-lookers, for status and rank or to turn the heads of the people toward your direction. Indeed revising our intention is an affair of constant importance as some of the salaf would say, “ما عالجت شيئا أشد علي من نيتي” I did not revise/treat/constantly refer back to anything more severe upon me than my intention.
The Second Affair: Writing the Knowledge i.e. taking notes.
Many narrations exist concerning the fact that the companions themselves would write down ahaadeeth they would hear, [there are some narrations, although almost all weak, and statements of some of the scholars of the past, that indicate the companions disliked writing knowledge down. This affair, as explained by many scholars, was linked to the dislike of writing ahadeeth on the same papers as Qur’an lest it became confusing as to what is what, or the dislike of writing at the expense of memorising, or that indeed it was disliked initially but later allowed], hence we have the narration of ibn Abbas رضي الله عنهما wherein the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم himself advised with writing knowledge down and so said in his final illness, “Bring me a [writing] book, I will write for you a book you will not go astray after it” [al-Bukhary, Chapter of Knowledge – sub-Chapter of Writing Knowledge].
Similarly Anas ibn Malik al-Ansary would encourage his children upon writing knowledge so he would say to them, “Oh my sons, confine [preserve] knowledge through the book [i.e. in writing it down]”. Similarly it is narrated he would say, “We would not consider the knowledge of the one who does not write down his knowledge, as knowledge”.[تقييد العلم ص96]
Saeed ibn Jubair narrates that he would write whilst attending with Ibn Abbas, to the extent that his papers would become full and he would later continue upon his palms.[تقييد العلم ص102-103 ]
Indeed some of the scholars in Madinah would force the students to write, stating that the one who does not bring his book and write is not considered a student!
The Third Affair: 3-Stage Approach to Knowledge.
From amongst the advice presented to the students at the Islamic University of Madinah would be to implement the 3-stage approach to knowledge to solidify it.
Stage 1: To prepare in advance for the lesson by engaging in background reading on the topic, in order that the student arrives at the lesson with a general understanding of the subject matter rather than attending blind.
Stage 2: To offer complete focus and concentration during the course of the lectures and to characterise oneself with the manners of seeking knowledge; sitting in a suitable posture and not lying down or appearing lazy, facing the correct direction, blocking out any distractions and refrain from excessive fidgeting. [Refer to the benefits of the Hadith of Jibril by Shaikh al-Fawzan حفظه الله in his explanation of the 40 Hadith of Nawawy].
Stage 3: To return after the lecture and revise and review the knowledge, to memorise it and understand it accurately; for indeed some from the people of knowledge would say, “آفة العلم النسيان” the catastrophe [regarding the one who seeks] knowledge is forgetfulness.
The Fourth Affair: Secondary Affairs are to Remain as Secondary Affairs!
Conversation, engagement with technological items in a manner unrelated to the lecture, eating and drinking and affairs of such a nature should not pre-occupy an individual during lectures…indeed al-Imam Ahmad stated, “People are more in need of knowledge than food and drink, because food and drink is required twice or three times a day and as for knowledge then it is required all the time”.
This is advice suitable to the upcoming events as well as generally thereafter in all gatherings of knowledge. An individual who truly wishes to gain knowledge requires to implement such methods.
May Allah facilitate the affairs upon the quest for knowledge and action, for indeed happiness of this world and the next is in understanding and implementing the Qur’an and Sunnah upon the methodology of the Salaf us-Salih. It is a great blessing of Allah upon us that we have Salafi organisations such Salafi Publications Birmingham, Germantown Masjid as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah Philadelphia, TROID Toronto, and many others from our brothers around the World organising such salafi gatherings – free of hizbiyyah, free of deception in concealing the reality many of the opposers have in defending innovators and cooperating with them yet attempting to hide that through certain events they present to the people.