Book review: The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

Book review: The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

This is an English translation of the book Hilyat Tālib al-‘Ilm by Shaykh Bakr Abū Zayd (may Allāh have mercy on him).

Some scholars prefer to teach their students the etiquette of seeking knowledge before teaching them other subjects. This is because Islamic knowledge cannot be properly obtained and fully digested prior to the acquisition of certain important etiquettes. Abdullah ibn al-Mubārak (may Allāh have mercy on him) said:

“They (the Pious Predecessors) used to learn manners before acquiring knowledge.”

This book is taught to students of knowledge in Islamic institutions and universities around the world. In order to really benefit from it, one should study it with a Shaykh as there are a lot of points that require elaboration.

One of the best explanations in Arabic was done by Shaykh ibn al-‘Uthaymīn (may Allāh have mercy on him) and is available online. In English, there is a very good explanation done by Dr. Bilal Philips (based mainly on Ibn al-‘Uthaymīn’s) which is available through the Islamic Online University.

Who’s a Salafī?

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, his Companions and those who follow them in truth are the Salaf of this Ummah. Everyone who proclaims the same message as the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ and his Companions and those who followed them in truth is following the path of the Salaf.

Time is not a factor in this definition, rather what matters is being in accordance with the Qur’ān and Sunnah in beliefs, rulings and following the interpretation of the Salaf. Everyone who acts in accordance with the Qur’ān and Sunnah is a follower of the Salaf, even if he is far away from them in time and place. Whoever differs from them is not one of them, even if he lived among them.

Taken from the book: A Brief Introduction to the ‘Aqeedah of Ahl Assunnah wal-Jama’ah

How to learn Qur’ān recitation

How to learn Qur’ān recitation

The three methods of learning Qur’ān from a teacher:

1. The teacher recites to the student, who then repeats back to the teacher. If the teacher realises a mistake he corrects him. This is the best method because the student hears the correct recitation from the teacher, and the teacher corrects him.

2. The student recites to the teacher. This is usually done with students who have some background in Qur’ān recitation.

3. The student listens to the teacher recite, then they go home and practice. This is the lowest level because the teacher doesn’t get to listen to the student and correct him. This is similar to listening to an audio CD.

Conceal your good deeds, whenever possible

Conceal your good deeds, whenever possible

There are some good deeds that are practically impossible to conceal, for example, praying in jamā’ah, attending circles of knowledge, or doing da’wah. But there are still plenty of good deeds we CAN keep secret, such as giving charity, du’ā, qiyām, fasting, or avoiding harām when alone, etc.

These secret deeds, that only you and Allāh know about, are from the best of deeds. Such deeds help us to develop ikhlāṣ and build a strong relationship with our Lord. They also come in very handy during trials.

During difficult times, one can make tawassul (i.e. seek nearness to Allāh) through such deeds, by mentioning them while supplicating to Allāh. For example, one can say, “O my Lord, You know that on such-and-such day I did such-and-such for Your sake alone, so I ask…” This is one of the best ways of supplicating. There is a beautiful example of this reported in an authentic Hadīth (in al-Bukhārī and Muslim) concerning three men who were trapped in a cave.

Therefore, it’s important to have a lot of these kinds of deeds “in the bank”, and we should always be looking for opportunities to perform good deeds in secret.

Da’wah: To whom should I give priority?

Da’wah: To whom should I give priority?

Begin with yourself before your family members and anybody else… Allāh said:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones…” Translated Meaning of Qur’ān (66:6)

Then, attend to your wife, before your neighbour and your companion, so that she can help you in bringing up the children.

Before you give da’wah to your cousins, give da’wah to your brother’s children, yet give da’wah to your cousins before giving da’wah to your companions – and carry on in this manner.

Why is preference to be given to your own children before, for example, your brother’s children? Once you are under the earth’s surface (i.e. in your grave), your children, your brother’s children, and your beloved ones will all feel great sorrow for your absence. But as days go by, forgetfulness has to affect them, except your children, for they will be praying to Allāh for you every day, rather many times in a day, rather in many of their prostrations. You will still be receiving good deeds while in your grave – how?

The Messenger ﷺ made it clear for us when he said:

“When a person dies, all of his actions discontinue except three: a recurring charity, or knowledge that is being benefitted from, or a righteous son that prays for him.”

Yet it is surprising to see some propagators of Islām, rather many of them, unfortunately being very active with great strength in giving da’wah to the people, but their women and their children are in a condition that they themselves are not pleased with, so which of the people have more priority to be given attention, education and da’wah?

Taken from the book: Adorning Knowledge with Actions

Your du’ā will be answered

Your du’ā will be answered

Two years ago, while I was in prison, I would make du’ā’ for a number of individuals by name, especially those who prayed for me, wrote to me, visited me, or supported my family.

But there were three brothers I used to make du’ā’ for the most. They were looking at potentially spending a lot of time behind bars – between 30 years to life. And each one of those brothers would say they were completely innocent of what they were accused of doing.

Despite their situation looking pretty “hopeless”, I used to make a lot of du’ā’ for them, hoping that due to the situation I was in (my being in prison), my du’ā’ would get answered, while bearing in mind that Allāh is Al-Qadīr – Capable of all things.

Approximately a year later, one of those brothers was freed, al-ḥamdu lillāh. A couple of months later, another one of the brothers was freed, al-ḥamdu lillāh. And a few days before this Ramaḍān just gone, the last of those three brothers was freed. All praise is for Allāh! They are all now back at home, living with their respective families.

Lessons:

1) Sometimes it takes years for one’s du’ā’ to be answered. Never lose hope and be patient.

2) Make use of the special times and circumstances (according to the Sunnah) during which du’ā’ is answered.

3) Have no doubt that Allāh will answer your du’ā’. He is, after all, Samī’ ad-Du’ā’ (the Hearer of prayer).

4) Be sincere in your du’ā’, abandon sins, and avoid the things which prevent one’s du’ā’ being answered.

5) If you know of anyone who has been oppressed or wrongfully imprisoned, ask them to make du’ā’ for you, because there is no ḥijāb (barrier) between them and Allāh.

Posted on Facebook in July 2016

The history of shirk in Egypt

The history of shirk in Egypt

​I went to an exhibition at the British Museum today with my wife. It was on the recent discovery of two lost cities of ancient Egypt that have been submerged under sea for over a thousand years! That’s not very long ago, yet the cities were only recently discovered.

In the Qur’an, Allāh tells us to go and “see what was the end of those who denied (pure monotheism).” This exhibition was fascinating. It made me wonder: how did such a once immensely powerful and wealthy civilisation completely disappear and get wiped off the map? The entire city, as it was, with all its buildings, shrines, statues and wealth, was submerged under sea! It seems that cities like these were preserved so that mankind could learn lessons. But have we learned them?

We also got to learn a lot about the history and origins of shirk in ancient Egypt. I used to find History really boring at school. But now I like to learn about history, especially the history and origins of shirk (polytheism).

Ancient Egyptians believed that Osiris was the god of the underworld (Hereafter). His sister-wife (yes, his wife was his sister!), Isis, was the first deity to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. Her name (Isis) means “throne”. She was an important representation of the Pharaoh’s power. The Pharaoh (of every era) was depicted as her child (Horus) who sat on the throne she provided.

Horus was considered a god – the king of kingdoms. And the Pharaoh was an incarnation of Horus. This explains why the Pharoah considered himself god.

Posted on Facebook 20th July 2016