Knowledge in Islam should be sought gradually. This is what both common sense, the environment way of people of knowledge teaches us. If you start gradually, you will attain wisdom and learn to be balanced. This is because if knowledge of Islam is taken gradually, you will digest it well and have time to contemplate on it. You do not wake up overnight an ‘Aalim or a Shaykh and no one has ever achieved such a feat.
Ibn Abdil-Barr in his book Al-Jaami’ said az-Zuhri said:
Whoever seeks to get knowledge in a lump sum overnight, it (knowledge) ends up leaving him in a lump sum. Knowledge is to be attained slowly, over days and nights.
Knowledge needs patience and it needs persistence. It is a step by step process. You do not go for example to some in depth ‘Aqeedah books and then you end up getting frustrated, facing complex matters you cannot break down, which you would have been able to do had you went in a step by step process.
Some brothers tell me they are studying ‘Aqeedah and Tawheed books that ‘Ulamaa have had a hard time breaking down. The bigger problem is they are studying it on their own and to top that off, they are not even studying it in the language of the author.
So explain to me how you can understand it like that? If you are unable to get to a teacher, which many are, especially in this day and age, that is a whole different story but you still have to at least know how to start.
If you pick up a book on tawheed which is the most basic one, such as al Usool at Thalatha, it still needs to be broken down (sentence by sentence) so the student of knowledge understands the deep meaning of what the book really entails. If you start in the step by step process and you find it difficult (which you may) but you should never ever give up.
Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi in his book al-Jaami’ narrated that a student of knowledge went to the Shuyookh of Hadith to learn. He found knowledge of Hadith is very difficult, he got frustrated and he said this is not for me. One day he was walking and he saw water dripping on a stone, maybe a spring.
If you have ever seen a spring, especially where water has been dripping on a stone for years and years, or even if you look at a fountain that has been dripping on a stone or even cement, the water dents the cement or the rock over the years.
He said to himself wow, look at that. Water as light as it is, Lateef (لطيف) (soft and mild), it affected the stone as hard as it is. He said knowledge is softer and lighter than water, and my heart and my mind are not as hard as a rock. He went back to studying Hadith and became a very reputable, famous scholar of Hadith.
Start gradually and as you go on, move forward patiently. This is the start of the classical study we mentioned and it is to create, I am not going to say students of knowledge, Inshaa Allah it is to create ‘Ulamaa. The other lectures we did and we will continue to do, like the University of Yusuf, The Ultimate Pleasure, The Love and Fear Series, the question and answers.
They are informative and inspirational, there is definitely knowledge in them but that is not what makes an ‘Aalim. Those kind of lectures are not what can make an ‘Aalim. If you hear a lecture here, attend a two day seminar, an event and trailer here and there, that is good.
But if that is what makes an ‘Aalim then the whole Ummah are ‘Ulamaa because your fathers have been attending Jumu’ah for about fifty or sixty years, and they have been attending lectures between Maghrib and Ishaa’ for a similar time. There is a structured study to becoming a student of knowledge and an ‘Aalim.