Knowing One's Priority
Hudhayfah said:The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) related matters to us. I have seen one of them, and I am waiting for the other. He (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) informed us: "Trustworthiness was sent down in depths of the heart of the people, then they learnt it from the Qur'aan, then they learnt it from the Sunnah" 2
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar (852H) said: "His (peace be upon him) saying: 'then they learnt it from the Qur'aan, then they learnt it from the Sunnah' So it occurs in this narration with the repetition of "then", which contains and indication that they would learn the Qur'aan before learning the details of the sunnah. And what is meant by the details of the sunnah is anything that they would learn from Prophet (saallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) whether it was obligatory or recommended."3
He said: "No! The Qur'aan."
I said: "Shall I teach him all of it?"
He replied: "Unless that is difficult, in which case teach him some of it." Then he said to me:
"If he begins reciting first, then he will learn correct recitation and will persevere in it."4
Ibn Muflih said:
"Upon this are the followers of Imaam Ahmad right up until our time."5
Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 718H) said:
"As for seeking to memorize the Qur'aan then this is to be given preference over many of the things that the people consider to be knowledge, but are -in reality - either totally useless, or having little benefit. It is also to be given precedence in learning especially by those who wish to acquire knowledge of the Deen, its principles and its particulars. Since what is prescribed for such a person at this time is that he should begin by memorizing the Qur'aan, as it is the foundation of the branches of knowledge of the deen. This is contrary to what is done by many of the people on innovation, in that one of them will preoccupy himself with superfluous parts of knowledge; such as kalaam (rhetorical speech) and argumentation; or very rare matters of differences; and blind following, which there is no need for; or very strange and rare ahaadeeth which are not established, nor of benefit; and many discussions do not establish proofs. And he abandons memorizing the Qur'aan which is more important than all of this."6
Muhammad ibn al-Fadl said, I heard my grandfather say: 'I asked my father for permission to study under Qutaybah, so he said:
"First learn the Qur'aan and then I will give you permission."
So I memorized the Qur'aan by heart. Then he said to me:
"Remain until you have led the people in prayer with it (i.e. for taraweeh prayer)."
So I did so, and after the "eed prayer he gave me permission, so I left for Marw."7
Ibn 'Abdul-Barr (d. 463H) said:
"Seeking knowledge is of levels and is of different stages which should not be skipped over. Whoever skips over them altogether, then he has overstepped the path of the Companions and those that follow them. Whoever deliberately takes a path other than this has seriously deviated. However, whoever oversteps due to an ijtihaad (a knowledge-based judgment that a qualified scholar makes, intending to reach the truth), then such a person has erred. So, the first (step in) knowledge is memorization of the Book of Allaah and seeking to understand it. And it is obligatory to seek everything which will aid in understanding it. However, I do not say that it is obligatory to memorize all of the Qur 'aan, but I do say that it is obligatory and essential for anyone who wishes to become a scholar - not that it is something obligatory in itself." 8
Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d. 463H) said:
"It is fitting for a student that he begins with memorization of the Book of Allaah -since it is the greatest of the branches of knowledge and that which should be placed first and given precedence."9
Al-Haafidh an-Nawawee (d. 676H) said:
"The first thing he should begin with-is memorization of the mighty Qur'aan, which is the most important of the branches of knowledge. And the Companions and those that follow them did not use to teach hadeeth or fiqh except to one who had memorized the Qur'aan When he has memorized it, let him beware of preoccupying himself from it with hadeeth, fiqh or other things, to the extent that it leads him to forget anything of the Qur'aan, or makes that (i.e. this happening) likely."10
Seeking knowledge in due proportions 11
Allaah (`azza wa jall) said: "And it is a Qur'aan which We have divided into parts, in order that you may recite it to men at intervals. And We have sent it down in stages."12
The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam said to `Abdullaah ibn `Amr ibn al-`Aas: "Read the Qur'aan in every month." I said: "I find that I have more strength than that". He (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "Recite it in every twenty nights." I said: "I find that I have more strength than that." He (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "Then recite it in every seven days and do not increase upon that."13
'Abdullaah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Aas also related from the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) that he said: "He does not understand the Qur'aan who recites it in less than three days "14
Umar ibn 'Abdul-Waahid, a companion of al-Awzaa'ee said: We read in al-Muwattaa to Maalik (d. 179H) in forty days, so he said:
"A book that took me forty years to compile, you take from me in forty days! How little you understand of it."15
Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee said:
"It is fitting that he takes care in acquiring knowledge and that he should not take too much in one go. Rather, he should take a little at a time, such that he can bear it, memorize it and be able to understand it. Because Allaah says which means: "And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur’aan not send down to him all at once? Thus (is it sent down in parts) that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages."16" 17
Al-Khateeb also said:
"And know that the heart in an organ from the organs. It is able to bear somethings and unable to bear others—just like the rest of the body. Thus, some people are able to carry one-hundred pounds, whereas others are unable to carry even twenty. Some people are able to walk a number of miles in a day without tiring, whereas others are unable to even walk a mile a day before they become tired... So let each person limit himself to what he is able without expending all his energies, because that will better aid him in learning with a good mind, from a firm and proficient teacher.''18
Supplicating for an Increase in Knowledge
Allaah (`azza wa jall) said which means: "Say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge." (Soorah TaaHaa 20:114)
Umm Salamah said: Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to supplicate in the morning prayer: "O Allaah! I ask you fur beneficial knowledge, righteous action and pure sustenance."20 Anas bin Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) supplicate: "O Allaah! Benefit me with knowledge. Teach me that which will benefit me, and provide me with knowledge from which I can derive benefit."21
Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ja'far said: I heard Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311H) being asked: "From where did you acquire this knowledge?" So he said: "Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "Zam-zam water is that for which it is drunk."22
So when I drunk zam-zam water, I supplicate to Allaah for beneficial knowledge." 23
Shaykhul-lslaarn Ibn Taymiyyah24 said:
"The reality of this matter that the servant differs in what he asks of knowledge and guidance, and of what he seeks to ask. So with remembrance of Allaah and turning towards Him, Allaah guides such a person—as He said which means: "O My servants! All of you are misguided, except whomsoever I guide. So seek your guidance from me."25
And, as the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to say: "O Allaah! Lord of Jibreel, Meekaa 'eel and Israafeel. The Originator of the heavens and the earth. Knower of the Unseen and the apparent. You judge between Your servant in that which he differs. So guide me in that which I differ from the truth—by Your permission. Indeed, You guide whomsoever You please, to a Path that is straight."26
2. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 7086)
3. Fathul-Baaree (13/39)
4. Related by Ibn Muflih in Al-Aadaabush-Shar'iyyah.
5. Related by Ibn Abee Ya'laa in Tabaqaatul-Hanaabilah (1/41).
6. Fataawaa al-Kubra (2/54-55).
7. Related by adh-Dhahabee in Tadhkiratul-Huffaadh (2/722).
8. Jaami' Bayaanul-'llm wa fadlihi (pp. 526-528)
9. Al-Jaami' li-Akhlaaqir-Raawee wa Aadaabis-Saami'(1/106).
10. From the introduction to Al-Majmoo' Sharhul-Muhadhhab (1/38)
11. From An-Nubadh (pp.67-69)
12. Soorah al-lsraa 17:106.
13. Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 5052) and Muslim (no. 1159) and the wording is from Muslim).
14. Saheeh: related by Abu Daawood in his Sunan (no. 1394) and it was authenticated by al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan Abee Daawood (no. 1294).
15. Related by Ibn 'Abdul-Barr in at-Tawheed (1/77)
16. Soorah al-Furqaan 25:32.
17. Al-Faqeeh wal-Mutafaqqih (2/101).
18. Al-Fapeeh wal-Mutafaqqih (2/107).
19. An-Nubadh (pp. 97-99).
20. Hasan: related by Ahmad (6/305) and at-Tiyaalasee (p.224). It was authenticated by al-Haafidh Ibn Hair in Nataa'ijul Aflkaar (2/313).
21. Related by Haakim (1/510) and he said: "It is authentic upon the condition of Muslim." Adh-Dhahabee also agreed.
22. Related by adh-Dhahabee in Tadhkiratul-Huffaadh (2/721).
23. Hasan: It has been narrated by many different ways. Refer to al-MaqaasidulHasanah (no. 928) of as-Sakhaawee for its authentication and sources.
24. Majmoo`ul fataawaa (4/39)
25. Related by Muslim (no. 2577) form Abu Dharr. 26. Related by Muslim (no. 770) from `Aaishah.