Words of Advice to the Muslim Student

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Shehzad Sattar
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Words of Advice to the Muslim Student

Postby Shehzad Sattar » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:22 am

Words of Advice to the Muslim Student

by Wasiullah ibn Muhammad ‘Abbas

Translated by Aboo Shaybah

A short piece of advice (dated 26 Thul-Qa‘dah 1433 / 12 October 2012) from our teacher, Dr. Wasiullah ibn Muhammad ‘Abbas, Ph.D., professor at Umm al-Qura University in Makkah al-Mukarramah, and currently teaching five nights a week at al-Masjid al-Haraam. This advice is geared towards Muslim students in all disciplines of study so they might be properly focused and get the most out of their studies.

All praise is due to Allaah, and may He send salaah and salaam upon our Prophet Muhammad – the best individual amongst all creation – and upon his family, Companions, and all who follow his Sunnah until the Day of Reckoning.

The following are guidelines and pieces of advice I wished to offer the Muslim student, and I ask Allaah – Most Majestic and Exalted – to bestow guidance, success, integrity, and eminence to the Muslims in this world and the hereafter.

Islaam is a comprehensive system which addresses all aspects of human life and encourages all means which produce advantageous results and maintain the wellbeing of all facets of a Muslim’s religious and worldly affairs. One such feature which Islaam encourages is seeking knowledge and pursuing an education. This is, in fact, the sole means to attaining all good things pertaining to one’s religion, worldly life, and hereafter. In terms of underscoring the importance Islaam gives to knowledge and education, there is nothing more emphatic than the very first portion of the Qur’aan revealed: “Read.” Furthermore, the object of the verb was omitted here, thus reflecting that the verb “Read” is an encouragement to read everything that is beneficial.

The primary obligation upon a Muslim is to learn three indispensable principles – who his Lord is, what his religion is, and who his Prophet is – which enable him to worship his Lord properly. This is the meaning of,

“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.”[1] Furthermore, knowledge must precede statements and actions:

“Know that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, and seek forgiveness for your sin” [Muhammad (47):19], as mentioned by al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree in one of the section headings of Kitaab al-‘Ilm (the chapter dealing with knowledge) in his book al-Jaami‘ as-Saheeh.

Whenever anyone intends to undertake an action he must proceed with clear insight into what he is doing: will it be beneficial for him, or harmful?

Thus, it is necessary for a Muslim to be educated about Islaam, in which lies his success, and it is not objectionable - in fact, it may actually be necessary - to acquire knowledge in a modern field of study which he may use to support himself. However, when pursuing this education, he must intend the Face of Allaah by it and not only attainment of worldly objectives and earnings. Scholars have discussed how the legal texts of Islaam prove that it is a collective obligation for Muslims to acquire knowledge of modern scientific fields and trades which would allow them to outdo those who may stand at odds against them.

Among the distinguishing qualities of the society which Islaam encourages is having each individual do what best suits him, in order for people to mutually complement each other in terms of occupations, and so that there would be an exchange of services, and areas of expertise. Allaah, Most Mighty and Majestic, has said,

“It is We who have apportioned between them their livelihood in this world, and We have raised some of them above others in ranks, in order for them to make use of each other for service” [az-Zukhruf (43):32]. This comprises manufacturing, agriculture, construction, medicine, business, economics, and other areas as well. Hence, it is imperative that the Muslim strive diligently in his field, giving it his all with full sincerity to Allaah, the Most Exalted. Doing so also serves to develop and further various disciplines and sciences which Muslims themselves built and initiated – all stemming from the divine command to read.

In addition, all modern sciences and disciplines must be governed by the guidelines and principles of Islaam. Ash-Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Naasir as-Sa‘dee wrote,

    Many people say, ‘This is the era of science, knowledge, and progress,’ and their intent behind saying this is to turn away from the past and from sciences related to Islaam, and to belittle their importance and discourage learning them. Their statement contains truth from one perspective, but falsity from many other angles.

    They are right in saying that this is an era in which technology related to industry, invention, and hard and natural sciences have advanced and progressed. However, they are grossly incorrect in confining knowledge to just this realm, not realizing that true beneficial knowledge lies in the contents of the Kitaab and Sunnah, and that is the knowledge which produces every good pertaining to Islaam, the world, and the hereafter.

    [Contents of the Kitaab and Sunnah] also incorporate beneficial knowledge as far as sciences, trades, manufacturing, and technology are concerned. It is, in fact, knowledge of Islaam which renders sciences and technologies sound and beneficial, channeling them to benefit humanity and preventing their abuse in recklessly destructive ways. This is why we say that they are also incorrect from the perspective of priding themselves over these various sciences, as they have not utilized them in a truly beneficial manner. On the contrary, they employed them in ways which have harmed the world, causing mass destruction, annihilation, and demolition. [Such sciences and technologies] are among the greatest blessings, but their usage of them has been one of the worst calamities and disasters.

    It is unequivocally clear that anything not guided by the principles of the true deen becomes inverted and its harm will be greater than its benefit.[2]

It may be presumed by some that knowledge and progress only exist in modern fields of study. This is an incorrect presumption since every beneficial discipline has its own importance and significance, whether the discipline is related to Islaam or is one of modern study.

As for disciplines related to Islaam, al-Haafith ibn Hajar drew attention to the central areas around which they revolve. At the onset of his explanation for Kitaab al-‘Ilm in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, ibn Hajar said,

    “The statement of Allaah meaning, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge’ is clear in establishing the excellence of knowledge since Allaah did not instruct his Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) to request an increase in anything except for knowledge.

    The knowledge being referred to here is knowledge of Islaam which enables one to know about what his deen demands of him with respect to acts of worship, mutual dealings and transactions, knowledge about Allaah and His attributes, the obligation of obeying His commands, and absolving Him of any imperfection. This all revolves around tafseer, hadeeth, and fiqh.[3]

When traversing the path seeking knowledge and education, a Muslim must give consideration to two facets of the path. Ibn Rajab commented,

“The statement of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) ‘If someone traverses a path seeking out knowledge, Allaah will make easy for him a path to Jannah.’ A similar statement was also narrated by Abud-Dardaa’ from the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam). Traversing the path to seek out knowledge comprises the real, explicit meaning – walking on foot to the gatherings where scholars deliver their lectures – as well as the implicit paths which lead to acquiring knowledge – memorization, studying, revision, reading, writing, comprehension, and other such related methods by which education is attained.[4]

Whatever discipline of study a Muslim pursues, it is imperative for him to always bear the following in mind:

The obligation of having sincerity to Allaah and hoping for what is with Him in the hereafter. The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said,

“When this world is one’s utmost concern, Allaah will shatter his affairs, place poverty between his two eyes, and nothing of this world will reach him except what has been written for him. And when one’s intention is hereafter, Allaah will put his affairs in order, place contentment in his heart, and the affairs of this world shall be compelled to fall into place for him.”[5] The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) also said,

“If someone pursues knowledge which is to be sought for the Face of Allaah, but he pursues it only to attain some portion of this world, he shall not find the scent of Jannah on the Day of Judgement.”[6]

Consistently maintaining Taqwaa of Allaah; and among its fruits is augmentation of knowledge. Allaah has said,

“Observe Taqwaa of Allaah, and Allaah shall grant you knowledge. And Allaah is completely knowledgeable about all things.” [al-Baqarah (2):282]

Consistently performing obligatory and optional acts of worship. The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) reported that Allaah said,

“My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than what I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to Me by optional deeds until I love him.”[7]

Diligence in studying. The original state of a human being is one of ignorance. Allaah has said,

“Allaah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers in a state in which you did not know anything. And He granted you hearing, sight, and hearts in order that you be grateful” [an-Nahl (16):78]. No human is born a scholar; on the contrary, he must diligently strive and exert himself to study, repeat, review, and apply what he learns. Indeed, knowledge is only attained by diligently studying, and Allaah has said,

“And that no individual shall receive anything except that for which he strove” [an-Najm (53):39]. Allaah also said,

“And those who strive in Our cause, We shall most certainly guide them to Our paths. And, indeed, Allaah is surely with those who strive for perfection” [al-‘Ankaboot (29):69].

“And He taught you what you did not know. And the favour of Allaah upon you has been immense” [an-Nisaa’ (4):113]. One must also be grateful to Allaah for the blessing of knowledge, and he must acknowledge this blessing of Allaah upon him by using it appropriately in ways which please Allaah, and he must also supplicate to Allaah,

“My Lord, grant me the ability to be grateful for the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and the ability to perform righteous actions which please You.” [al-Ahqaaf (46):15]. Allaah has also said,

“And Your Lord declared: if you are grateful, I will most surely grant you more; and if you are ungrateful, My punishment is certainly severe” [Ibraaheem (14):7].

Keenly pursuing what is beneficial, seizing opportunities in life, and seeking assistance from Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said,

“Keenly pursue what is of benefit to you, seek assistance from Allaah, and do not feel incapable.”[8] The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) also said,

“Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age; your health before your sickness; your prosperity before your poverty; your free time before you become preoccupied; and your life before your death.”[9] A student must also not neglect to seek help by remembering and making mention of Allaah, resorting to Him at all times, and invoking much salaah and salaam upon the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam). Keenly pursuing what is beneficial necessitates completely avoiding things that will serve to distract, preoccupy the mind, and have no relation to knowledge. A student would also be incredibly fortunate if guided to devote himself in worshipping Allaah before Fajr – even if for just half-an-hour – during the time when He descends. One must also bear in mind the statement of the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam)

“Indeed, the world and all it contains is cursed except for mention and remembrance of Allaah, all that assists in doing so, a scholar, and a student.”[10]

The Companions would take advantage of the morning hours to accomplish what would be advantageous for affairs of their religion and hereafter, and they would also give much importance to carefully contemplating what Allaah had revealed. Some instances of that are:

The narration of ‘Aa’ishah (RadhiAllahu Anha) where she said that a group of people peformed tawaaf around the Ka‘bah after Fajr prayer. They then sat to listen to the Muthakkir (i.e. teacher, lecturer) until the sun rose and then stood to pray.[11]

Mahdee ibn Maymoon said: Waasil al-Ahdab narrated to us from Aboo Waa’il who said: we went to ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas‘ood early one morning after praying Fajr. We extended the greeting of salaam while we waited at the door, and we were given permission to enter. However, we continued waiting at the door for a while. A young girl came out and said, “Will you not enter?” So, we entered and found him [ibn Mas‘ood] sitting and saying tasbeeh, and he asked, “What prevented you from entering after you had been allowed to do so?” We replied, “Nothing, but we thought perhaps some inhabitants of the house might be sleeping.” He said, “You thought there is heedlessness in the house of ibn Umm ‘Abd (i.e. ibn Mas‘ood)?!” He continued his tasbeeh until he thought the sun had risen, so he said to the girl, “See if it has risen yet.” She did so and found it had not yet risen, so he continued his tasbeeh until he thought the sun had risen. He said to the girl, “See if has risen yet.” She did so and found that it had risen, and he said, “All praise is due to Allaah who pardoned us in this day of ours” – Mahdee commented: and I think he said – “and did not destroy us due to our sins.” One of the people present said, “I recited all of the mufassal last night.” ‘Abdullaah replied, “You rattled them off like lines of poetry?! We heard the qaraa‘in, and I have memorized the qaraa‘in which the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) used to recite: eighteen from the mufassal and two from the family of Haa Meem.”[12]

Knowledge is not attained without six. There are some lines of poetry ascribed to ash-Shaafi‘ee which sum up means to attaining knowledge

    My brother, you cannot attain knowledge without six
    I will outline them to you specifically:
    Intelligence, keenness, diligence, enough to live off,
    accompanying a teacher, and a long time.

Moreover, our teachers – at the head of them our eminent Shaykh, Natheer Ahmad al-Amlawee – would advise us to not come to class without having already carefully looked over – at least once – the material we would study that day. By taking this initiative, a student might very well understand a quarter or half of the material, and if he finds any difficulty he should make note of those points and ask about them during class so that he would not leave them neglected. Then, after that preliminary reading, he attends and listens to his teacher’s lesson, writing all he hears from the teacher, and inquiring about problematic points. After that, the student should not sleep without revising the material he studied in every subject that very same day. This method is most helpful in comprehending, memorizing, and recalling the material, since the student goes over the content at least three times that day, and he could actually come away having memorized over half of the material, and he would not need to fatigue himself very much during the examination period. However, as for students who do not prepare prior to their lectures and do not review following them, it is feared that they may not grasp all the material covered.

I would further advise the teachers and professors to identify which topics would be discussed in the upcoming class in order to enable students to prepare adequately and participate actively, by the permission of Allaah.

Lawful earnings and supporting dependents: if it becomes necessary for a student to work while studying, he must ensure that he does so through permissible means in order to support himself and his dependents until Allaah provides for him. Ka‘b ibn ‘Ujrah said, “A man passed by the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) and the Companions saw that he appeared strong and energetic so they said, “Messenger of Allaah! If only he was in the path of Allaah!” At that, the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) replied,

“If he set out to work in order to support his young children, he is in the path of Allaah. If he set out to work in order to support his two elderly parents, he is in the path of Allaah. If he set out to work in order to remain away from the unlawful and away from asking of others, he is in the path of Allaah. If he set out with the objective of ostentation and boasting, he is in the path of shaytaan.”[13]

One’s accountability and responsibility before his Lord. The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said,

“The two feet of the son of Aadam will not move on the Day of Judgement as he stands before his Lord until he is asked about five: his life and how he spent it; his youth and how he used it up; his property – where he acquired it, and where he spent it; and what he did with the knowledge he had.”[14]

I ask Allaah, the All-Knowing and Most Wise, to render these guidelines sincerely for Him, and beneficial to His worshipping servants; and to guide those who traverse the path seeking knowledge and education to all things which are advantageous for them short-term and long-term; and to teach them, grant them good, assist them, and use them to rejuvenate the life of the Muslim Ummah and its unity in order for them to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations by the permission of Allaah.

And all praise is due to Allaah, and may He send salaah, salaam, and blessings upon the best of His creation – the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) – and upon his family, Companions, and all who follow their way.

    Wasiullah ibn Muhammad ‘Abbas

Source and References in Arabic: https://qaryah.wordpress.com/


[1] Saheeh. Collected by ibn Maajah (224), at-Tabaraanee in all three of his books entitled al-Mu‘jam, al-Bayhaqee in Shu‘ab al-Eemaan (1545), and others. See also Saheeh al-Jaami‘ (3919).

[2] ad-Dalaa’il al-Qur’aaniyyah fee anna al-‘Uloom wal-A‘maal an-Naafi‘ah al-‘Asriyyah daakhilah fid-Deen al-Islaamee, pg.45.

[3] Fath al-Baaree, 1/141.

[4] Jaami‘ al-‘Uloom wal-Hikam, 2/296-297, ar-Risaalah edition

[5] Saheeh. Collected by ibn Maajah (4105) and others.

[6] Saheeh. Collected by Aboo Daawood (3664), ibn Maajah (242), and others.

[7] Saheeh. Collected by al-Bukhaaree (6502) and others.

[8] Saheeh. Collected by Muslim (2664) and others.

[9] Saheeh. Collected by al-Haakim (7927, Daar al-Haramayn edition), al-Bayhaqee in Shu‘ab al-Eemaan (9767). See also Saheeh al-Jaami‘ (1077).

[10] Hasan. Collected by at-Tirmithee (2322), ibn Maajah (4112).

[11] Collected by al-Bukhaaree (1628).

[12] Collected by Muslim (822).

[13] Saheeh. Collected by at-Tabaraanee in al-Mu‘jam al-Kabeer (19/129). See also Saheeh al-Jaami‘ (1428).

[14] Saheeh. See its various routes of narration in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah (946).
The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not repel people..”

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