Many people read books but when asked to recall, they struggle to recall. Are you one of them? Have you been attending classes of knowledge, eager to learn about the deen, but feel you’re not retaining anything? During the lesson do you say to yourself “there’s no way I’m going to forget this point so no need writing it down”; and then a week later you cannot recall a line of the session you attended?
Whenever you go to a class or read a book, or even listen to an Islamic talk on your mp3 player, there are some productive attitudes before studying you should try to implement. Below are just a few attitudes one should have:
You need to ask yourself “why am I learning or reading this book”? “Is it so people can call me a knowledgeable person”? “Is it to win in debates”? Is it to draw people’s faces towards you? If any of these questions apply this is the case then you will not benefit at all in your studies.
Ibn Masud said, “Knowledge is not constant narration, rather it is a light that is placed in the heart.
“Indeed those who fear Allah are those who have knowledge.” [Surah Fatir verse 28]
Sufyaan Ath-Thawree said: ”The excellence of knowledge is due only to the fact that it causes a person to fear and obey Allah, otherwise it is just like anything else.”
The very first thing one must take into consideration is that the knowledge you are about to learn is ibadah, it is a form of private worship, an action between you and Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).
Sufyaan Ath-Thawree said: ”I have never found anything more difficult than my own intentions.”
Look at your deeds, those that are done in public and those done secretly, are your public deeds more than your secret deeds, do you enjoy the public deeds more than the secret? If that is the case you need to deeply look at your intention. Who are you doing it for, the people or Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala)?
The likeness of the one who remembers his Rabb and the one who doesn’t is like the living and the dead.
The student of knowledge should begin with the Name of Allah and be aware that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) is watching them. This will bring barakah to your studies insha’Allah.
“Whoever attempts to be successful in seeking knowledge while insisting upon excessive eating, drinking, and sleeping is attempting the impossible.” [Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]
Sometimes when you learn and have studied you are tempted to make your tongue loose, and you sometimes like to talk more than you like to listen.
“Whoever believes in the last day let him say what is good or remain silent” [Bukhari]
Imam Shafi’ee said if you wish to say something, let him think, if you conclude that there is no harm, speak. If you conclude that your words will bring about harm, do not speak.
Luqman (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked “How did you become so wise? He replied: I do not ask for what I don’t need, and I don’t speak about what does not concern me.” [Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]
Another attitude we should have is to respect our teachers and know that there is someone always more knowledgeable than ourselves.
Imam Shafi’ee said, ”I would turn the pages of my books in front of Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) in a very soft and quite way so that he wouldn’t be bothered by noise, out of respect for him.”
Ibn Abbas: “I humbled myself as a student so I became honourable as a teacher.”
When one learns knowledge, it should humble them. If you say, I see knowledgeable people with bad manners, what you see is mere speech that they concoct up with their tongues at times, and reject at times with their hearts. This is not sincere knowledge that has penetrated into their lives.
In order to be productive we need to learn manners, manners with knowledge. Abdullah ibn Mubarak said: “I spent thirty years learning manners and twenty years learning knowledge.”
The next time we want to study let us see if we can have these 5 simple productive attitudes to increase the benefits of our efforts.
About the author
Yaqub Ali is a graduate of Bsc Psychology. He is involved with youth work, and is part of YMO (Young Muslim Organization).