ETP – Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge – Book 1 – class 1

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم وبارك على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين, أما بعد

                      ~~~~~        Link to PDF Notes

Our teacher began with praising Allaah and sending salaat and salaam on the Messenger of Allaah, his family, companions and followers until the Last Day and began by introducing to us this book which is a poem consisting of 115 verses in knowledge and the merit of seeking it and some of the etiquettes and manners while seeking it.

INTRODUCTION

The people of knowledge have spent their lives simplifying the knowledge to the people in different generations. And they have done that in many ways.

Part of preserving the knowledge and also establishing sciences was by writing books.  That is why, especially after the generation of the Prophet (Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) [i.e. the third generation],  the phenomenon of writing books in different sciences started growing and started increasing generation after generation. Also the methodologies of scholars in writing books differed from one time to another. For example:  In the early ages, alot of the books depended on the narration whether what was narrated was the hadeeth or the reports of the Sahaabah or their followers and even the news of the ancient Arabs before Islaam,  was also narrated generation after generation.

One of the ways of simplifying the knowledge to the people was turning sciences into poems and this happened especially in the late ages where the people of knowledge used to write poems in different fields of Islaamic knowledge.  Why is that?  It is because poems are more exciting to read than the normal texts and memorizing them is easier than the normal texts because poems are pleasant to the ears more than the normal text is, and if one memorizes a poem it is more difficult for him to forget it than memorizing the normal texts. That is why this phenomenon,  which is writing poems – especially poems in different sciences – grew and was done and there is hardly a scholar who has not participated in such or who at least memorized such poems in some of the sciences if not all.

Ustaadh hafidhakAllaah told us that inshaa’ Allaah in the near future he would show us how those poems work because there are different patterns of poetry and each of it is sung in a different way according to different scales,  just as how it was done in As-Sarf.  It is the same thing with poems.   Which means making poetry –  producing poetry itself,  is studied in an independent science called العروض (Al-A’roodh) and this will be mentioned in the future  inshaa’ Allaah. So there are different ways to put up poetry and different patterns that it follows and those patters are considered to be different scales which the verses follow.

MEANS TO GAINING KNOWLEDGE

They said that there are means to gaining knowledge and one of the most important means of gaining knowledge is its etiquettes, discipline and manners. The one who lacks this discipline is more likely to not gain any knowledge and if he is to gain knowledge then this knowledge will die sooner or later because each one of those manners of knowledge that the student of knowledge is supposed to be upon, in opposition to it are bad manners and ill characteristics such as:

  •  الكبر (Al-Kibr) – Arrogance and pride,
  • الحقد (Al-Hiqd) – Hatred,
  • الحسد (Al-hasad) – Envy,
  • الرياء (Ar-Riya’) – showing off.

So showing off or seeking knowledge for the sake of it being said or seen that you are a seeker of knowledge, what is the opposite of that? The opposite of that is الإخلاص (Al-Ikhlaas).  So the scholars teach you – first of all they say: ‘Knowledge is an I’baadah (act of worship)!’ because Allaah Subhaanahu wa ta’Aalaa commanded it.

فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا

Then High above all be Allaah, the True King. And be not in haste (O Muhammad – Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) with the Qur’aan before its revelation is completed to you, and say: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (20:114)

And Allaah also mentioned:

وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْ لَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ

And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islaamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil). (9:112)

In this verse Allaah calls a group of people to seek knowledge to benefit others. The Prophet (Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) said as in the hadeeth which is said in Ibnu Maajah:

حَدَّثَنَا الْهُذَيْلُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمَازِنِيُّ الْجُمَّانِيُّ وَكَانَ صَاحِبَ جُمَّةَ ، ثنا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ ، عَنْ حَمَّادِ بْنِ أَبِي سُلَيْمَانَ وَهُوَ جَدُّ أَبِي غَسَّانَ ، عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ” طَلَبُ الْعِلْمِ فَرِيضَةٌ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ

‘Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim!’

Therefore, whatever Allaah has commanded is an act of worship! This is because whatever Allaah commands is whatever He loves from His slave to do. That is why Allaah says: و الله يحب الصابرين , ولي المؤمنين …

اللَّهُ وَلِيُّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَوْلِيَاؤُهُمُ الطَّاغُوتُ يُخْرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ النُّورِ إِلَى الظُّلُمَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

Allaah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut [false deities and false leaders, etc.], they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever. (2:257)

Which means that Allaah loves those who do righteous good deeds because the word ‘ولي’ means ‘the loved one’

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَن يَرْتَدَّ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ.

O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allaah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the believers, stern towards the disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allaah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allaah which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allaah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower. (5:54)

So whatever Allaah commands his slave to do is whatever He loved for him to do and whatever Allaah commanded is an act of worship.

DEFINITION OF WORSHIP 

What is worship? It is whatever Allaah loves and is pleased with of outer or inner acts.

Worship is proven generally in three ways:

  1. Whatever Allaah commands.
  2. Whatever Allaah praises His slaves for doing.
  3. Whatever Allaah rewards for doing.

The above three prove that the act involved is an act of worship. If it is proven that it is an act of worship then in general also there are conditions to the acceptance of any act of worship.

  1. Ikhlaas (إخلاص) which means that you do it only for the sake of Allaah.
  2. It must be according to the way of the Prophet (Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) and his companions and their followers.

This is why the scholars teach us this separately. They say, they teach you the manners of seeking knowledge so they tell you ‘العلم عبادة’ (seeking knowledge is an act of worship). Then they teach us that if it is an act of worship it must be based upon the sincere intention. Meaning that it has to be for the cause of Allaah.

Why do they teach us this in the beginning? Because the opposite of that is الرياء (Ar-Riyaa’a) every other cause which isn’t sincere which isn’t for the cause of Allaah like for the sake of showing off. This would lead you to your distruction and you will not benefit from this knowledge.

…Or for the sake of becoming famous, and if you seek knowledge for the sake of fame then you are soon to fall on your face, because you will remain seeing yourself big and you will become big in yourself until you fall on your face.

…Or you seek knowledge for over-coming people in arguments so that you can win arguments! That is also a corrupt intention if it is not for the sake of Allaah.

…Or if you seek knowledge for the sake of belittling people or for the sake of showing your knowledge over the ignorant. These are all corrupted intentions that lead you to corruption.

So just as well as you have to seek knowledge, part of the knowledge that you have to seek is the etiquette and the manners which protects you from falling into whatever falls as a barrier between you and knowledge or between you and benefitting from your knowledge. Just as well as this exists in the one who gives knowledge it also exists in the one seeking knowledge. They therefore emphasize on the act solely done for the sake of Allaah and they explain to you whatever is opposite that. That is why if you had pondered on the hadeeth  ‘إنما الأعمال بالنيات’ what did the Prophet (Salllallaahu`alayhi wasallam) give as an example after that? He said:فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، ومن كانت’ ‘هجرته لدنيا يصيبها ، أو امرأة ينكحها ، فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه.

Some of the scholars said that what is for the sake of Allaah is one that is why the sentence was repeated as a result but when the cause was other than that, the Prophet (Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) said what? –  ‘then his Hijrah is for whatever he did it for’

They said: “why did he say that?”  Because what is for other than wanting it for the cause of Allaah are plenty things. So it gives you the benefit of that being looked down at and also that the different causes that are other than for the sake of Allaah are plenty. Some who does something to just get a position or a job or a miserable worldly gain or for a praise or to prosper his mention or that he is never forgotten etc.

So they clarify this to you in what they have called ‘آداب طالب العلم’ which means ‘the character of the seeker of knowledge’. Meaning, what are the attributes and the characteristics which the student of knowledge should have when seeking knowledge?  So they clarify the dangers and what is opposite of those dangers. So they teach you the opposite of الحسد (envy) or of سوء الظن (thinking bad about people) and this troubles the heart and occupies the mind because the one who thinks bad about the people, this bad thinking takes a big part of his time. Why? Because probably he will stay for about 10 to 15 minutes or even half an hour wondering through those bad thoughts he has towards something and I wish it was for a reason, but it is just for a misconception or a suspicion and he wastes his time with that bad thought. Not only does he waste his time but it also corrupts the heart and causes a disease in the heart because the sin invites another sin, that is why Allaah said:

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ لِمَ تُؤْذُونَنِي وَقَد تَّعْلَمُونَ أَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ فَلَمَّا زَاغُوا أَزَاغَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

And (remember) when Moosaa (Moses) said to his people: “O my people! Why do you hurt me while you know certainly that I am the Messenger of Allaah to you? So when they turned away (from the Path of Allaah), Allaah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path). And Allaah guides not the people who are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah). (61:5)

So when they did a sin it had caused them to forget Allaah and caused them to follow a sin with another sin just as well as the one who seeks the guidance Allaah will increase him in his guidance.

  وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ  

While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance, and bestows on them their piety.(47:17)

And inshaaAllaah when the time comes we would learn [about]  bad thinking, the diseases of the heart that are barriers that slow down your seeking of knowledge.  In fact there are a lot of recorded quotes of the pious saying that they have spent their first years just observing the manners of the people of knowledge before even starting seeking knowledge. Here are the students of Imaam Maalik saying:

  ‘تعلم من مالك أدب قبل أن نتعل العلم’   

‘We learned from Maalik discipline before we learn knowledge’

A lot of those who used to attend the gatherings of Imaam Ahmed were those who were attending just for the sake of learning from Al-Imaam Ahmed’s manners and good character. One of the main reasons people leave seeking knowledge is because they have not abided by its manners.

PATIENCE WITH SEEKING KNOWLEDGE

As-Sabr is one of the important things they preach about seeking knowledge and As-Sabr comes in the opposition of hastiness. Some students of knowledge are hasty, they wish that they could learn everything at once so they rush to ask questions hastening the gaining of knowledge and then when they are not pleased with them not getting the answer of that question because the teacher knows best what is best for them in this time or this class or the beginning of their seeking of knowledge, what happens? They are disappointed and this disappointment causes them to leave the circles of knowledge.

So one has to remember, I am seeking knowledge now! Am I doing this for the sake of Allaah or for curiosity? If you seek knowledge just for the sake of curiosity then you have not understood the point of seeking knowledge. The point of knowledge is to rectify and correct your actions and you should only seek knowledge to act upon it.

This introduction is just to show you how important this topic is because you might not find many interested in this topic but it is one of the most important topics especially in the beginnings of your seeking of knowledge. There is even a way to ask one who is giving you knowledge and many of ask the people of knowledge, but we don’t know the manners when we ask the people of knowledge. For example, if the teacher fell into a mistake it seems to them that it is a mistake but in reality it not a mistake. It is only a mistake for them because they have understood wrong from what they knew in the past. So when they approach the teacher they say: ‘you have erred!’ and that is very rude! When it seems to you that the teacher fell into mistake and in many cases  it is you who fell into a mistake in understanding  it is very rude that you approach and say to your teacher ‘ I think you fell into a mistake!’ but the right way for you to do it is to bring it in a form of a question. So you say for example, ‘isn’t this issue like so?’ then in most cases if it is not so, then the teacher will clarify to you how it really is. In this way you will benefit but in that way (i.e. not the right way of speaking to the teacher) which is the first way, you will not only loose the benefit but you will also lose the respect of your teacher and what your teacher thinks of you.

What is the relationship between learning the manners from the scholars and seeking knowledge? The manners to seeking knowledge is the key to seek knowledge just as bad manners is a key to losing knowledge or not benefitting from the knowledge.

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK

This poem belongs to one of the senior scholars of the 400’s. His name is Abu Is-haaq Ibraheem ibnu Mas’ood At-Tujiybiyy Al-Gharnaatiy Al-Ilberiyy Al-Andaloosiyy. (أبو إسحاق إبراهيم بن مسعود التجيبي الغرناطي الإلبيري الأندلوسي).

  • أبو إسحاق is his kunyah.
    • The kunyah is whatever is started with the father or the son or the mother. One of the manners is that you address the people by their kunyah and not their first name this is one of the characteristics of the Arabs that when they address someone they address him with his kunyah so they say ‘Abu Fulaan’ or ‘Ummu Fulaan’. This is when you address common people but when you address the scholar or the teacher there has to be an additional respect but when addressing each other it is nice to address each other by their kunyah if they had one and even if they do not have one it is okay to have one even if they are not a father. So for example fi someone’s name is Fahd, you ask him for example: ‘ Abu man?’ meaning ‘you are the father of who?’ and he tells you for example ‘Abdullah’ so you say ‘Abu Abdillah!’and when you call him you say ‘Abaa Abdillah!’.
  • التجيبي is a reference to a tribe called Tujiyb.
    • The ‘ي’ at the end is called the Ya of reference so when you refer to something you add that ‘ي’ to the end.
  • الغرناطي is a reference to Granada.
  • الإلبيري is a reference to Iberia which is in Andaloosiyyah which is currently Spain.

There was a well known senior scholar at that time called Ibnu Abee Zamaneen (died in the year 399 A.H). He was a great Imaam and had a sound creed according to the way of the Prophet (Sallallaahu`alayhi wasallam) and his companions. Abu Is-haaq is one of his students. Abu Is-haaq narrated most of his teachers book’s (i.e. Ibnu Zamaneen). Abu Is-haaq had a lot of poetry and most of his poetry was about heart softeners and reminders of the Hereafter, and he was given a very beautiful and eloquent speech especially in poetry as you shall see inshaa’Allaah. The people of Andaloosiyyah at that time were fascinated about the poems of Abu Is-haaq and his poetry is according to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

THE TOPIC OF THIS POEM

This poem is an advice to someone who had insulted Abu Is-haaq and slandered him. So Abu Is-haaq advised him and took it as an opportunity to remind them of knowledge and the merit of seeking it and warning against running after the adornments of this worldly life, and recommending all to repentance and putting oneself to account before the coming of death.

This poem is circulated that Abu Is-haaq wrote it as an advice to his son but that is not correct, because it will be mentioned later on that Abu Is-haaq reminded the person about the person advised being with him in his childhood which is a clear understanding that this person is not his son but he is someone who insulted and hurt Abu Is-haaq and slandered him so Abu Is-haaq gave him this powerful and strong advice which the people ended up memorizing  along with the other verses of poetry which they had memorized due to Abu Is-haaq being very popular at that time and of a word which is accepted by the majority.

THE POEM

Abu Is-haaq said in his poetry:

 

تَفُتُّ فُؤَادَكَ الْأَيَّامُ فَتَّا         وَ تَنْحِتُ جِسْمَكَ السَّاعَاتُ نَحَتَا

Tafuttu Fu’aadakal Ayyamu Fattaa                       Wa Tanhitu Jismakas Saa’aatu Nahtaa

  •  What does تَفُتُّ mean?  It means crushing something and breaking it with your fingers.  For example, if you hold a particle of dry bread and you crush it between your fingers to small crumbles, this is what you call الفَتْ (Al-fat) in the Arabic language.  So the word tafuffu is a verb which means: crushes and breaks.
  • What is meant by فُؤَادَكَ  (fuaadaka) is your heart.
  • الأيام (al-ayyamu) means the days.
  • فَتَّا (fattaa) is a verbal noun for the verb تَفُتُّ (tafuttu) for emphasize. So this means a crushing.

So what it would mean is: what a crushing would the days do to your heart!  ‘The days’ meaning the passing of the days. It crushes your heart a crushing.  It means with the passing of days that tries your heart and exercises it until it grows very weak and it shows if you are a believer or not or if you are sincere or not.  It is as if he resembled the days to fingers and your heart to something between those fingers which the fingers are crushing and breaking into little pieces or at least that which your fingers are pressing hard trying to break and then from this heart it will come out, either your sincerity or the opposite. Why? Because Allah (subahnahu wata’aala) what does he do?

  إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ وَتِلْكَ الْأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنكُمْ شُهَدَاءَ وَاللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ  

If a wound (and killing) has touched you, be sure a similar wound (and killing) has touched the others. And so are the days (good and not so good), We give to men by turns, that Allah may test those who believe, and that He may take martyrs from among you. And Allah likes not the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers). (3:140)

The days are not always happy days. If you expect that your life be filled with happiness and you are under the impression that if you are always happy that’s when Allaah loves you and if you are not that’s when Allaah hates you,  then by Allaah you have not understood Allaah! Neither have you understood yourself neither have you understood the reality of this life.

Rather, everything you go through, if you are content with whatever Allaah decrease for you then this only means that Allaah loves you even if you are in pain or you go through calamities or you are in trials or you go through things that aren’t suitable for you or the thorn you step on that is even a sign that Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’Aalaa) wants good for you and loves you but with a condition that you be patient.

As you can see,  this is a very good start from the poet where he has given an introduction to prepare the one he is advising for his advice. Beautiful! This is an amazing way for him to start his advice.  So the days exercise your heart and show you what type of person you are. So you have to always go back to your niyyah (i.e. intention) and correct it and see what disease lays in your heart so you can wash your heart from this disease.

So the days, it is a part of the way of Allaah that days are always not good for you. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they go according to what you want and sometimes they don’t! and the running of the days which are some good and some not good, what does it do to the heart? It is a test for the heart! It tries the heart.  The dunyah does not remain with every person the same, it changes, sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad. Somedays you are happy and somedays you are sad. That is because of the way of Allaah is that He not only tries His slaves by what is bad, He also tries His slaves by what is good. Meaning with the pleasures and the turbulences. As a proof to this Allaah said:

   وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ  *  ثُمَّ بَدَّلْنَا مَكَانَ السَّيِّئَةِ الْحَسَنَةَ حَتَّىٰ عَفَوا وَّقَالُوا قَدْ مَسَّ آبَاءَنَا الضَّرَّاءُ وَالسَّرَّاءُ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ 

And We sent no Prophet unto any town (and they denied him), but We seized its people with suffering from extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss of health and calamities, so that they might humiliate themselves (and repent to Allaah).  Then We changed the evil for the good, until they increased in number and in wealth, and said: “Our fathers were touched with evil (loss of health and calamities) and with good (prosperity, etc.).” So We seized them of a sudden while they were unaware. (7:94-95)

So here them being tested with the good and the bad has no wisdom as they claim. Meaning, that they thought it is not for the sake of reminding one of the Hereafter. People think that if they are gifted with the adornment of this life that means Allaah is pleased with them, that is not a condition!  Allaah said:

    فَأَمَّا الْإِنسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَكْرَمَنِ  *  وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ  *  كَلَّا بَل لَّا تُكْرِمُونَ الْيَتِيمَ    

As for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honour and gifts, then he says (puffed up): “My Lord has honoured me.”  But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says: “My Lord has humiliated me!”  Nay! But you treat not the orphans with kindness and generosity (i.e. you neither treat them well, nor give them their exact right of inheritance)!  (89:15-17)

~END OF DARS~

Notes transcribed by: Umm Abdillah Zaiba bint Hashim

SCREEN SHOTS:

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