The etiquette of the student and their lesson

Point 1

The student of knowledge shall begin (their pursuit of knowledge) with the noble Qur’an and attain proficiency through its memorisation, and strive to acquire understanding of its interpretation and other branches; because it is the source of all the sciences and the most important of them.

They should then memorise an abridgement of every science, and acquire Hadith with its branches, and the sciences of Fiqh, Grammar, Tasrif (the inflection of words) etc. However all this should not distract them from studying the Qur’an, reciting it regularly. They should beware of forgetting any portion memorised, because this has been severely criticized in many Ahadith.

They should then remain busy with acquiring the explanations (of the branches of knowledge mentioned above) from their teachers, and ensure that they do not merely rely upon the books for the explanations. Rather – for each branch – they should depend upon the teachers that are proficient at conveying and verifying, those teachers that are well-acquainted with the book being studied, as well as possessing the essential characteristics of religion, righteousness, compassion etc.

Point 2

The student of knowledge should avoid the (random) study of the differences between the scholars during the initial phase of seeking knowledge, as this would ultimately cause confusion. Rather full attention should be given to that one book or subject they are reading or studying, until they are well-versed in it. There is no harm if they study multiple subjects, with the teacher’s approval, and provided they can handle the workload.

If it is the teacher’s habit to quote the various opinions on an issue, the student should not support one view (and criticize the rest). Regarding this, Imam al-Ghazali said, “This should be avoided because its harm is greater than its benefit.”

Also during the initial stages of learning, they should avoid the (random) study of the multiple subjects. Doing so will result in time-wasting and confusion. Again, full attention should be given to that one book or subject they are reading or studying, until they are well-versed in it. Similarly they should beware of changing books unnecessarily, because it is a sign of anxiety and (the result will ultimately be) failure.

Once the student’s capability is established and their scholarship is recognised, then it is preferable that they do not leave any of the Islamic sciences, except that they delve into it. If fate favors them and they are blessed with long life, they should delve deeply in acquiring knowledge, and if not, then at least they would have saved others from the enmity of their ignorance. They should aim to learn every science, beginning with the most important and (then going to) the next in importance.

Remember that the ultimate aim of knowledge is its implementation, so ensure this is not neglected.

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