In the olden days, students of ilm would travel for days in search of authentic Islamic knowledge and devote their entire lives to it. They would spend years learning under prominent scholars, going above and beyond to ensure that they were seeking unadulterated knowledge that was free from human errors and misinterpretation. But in the twenty-first century, the situation has changed for students of ilm.
We live in a time where abundant information is readily available, whether it is online, in books, or from scholars. While the ease of access to Islamic education provided through these media is advantageous to those who are interested in learning, there is also a real risk of falling prey to wrong or inauthentic information, which could have a long-lasting negative effect on one’s imaan.
Accurate knowledge is required to establish a solid foundation for the perfect practice of our beautiful religion. Seeking knowledge is a rewarding endeavor, but it is crucial to obtain knowledge that is pure and authentic. When embarking on the journey of seeking ilm, it is imperative for the seeker to ensure that the information they obtain does not contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah and, most importantly, is based on the correct aqeedah.
Here are a few key points to be cognizant of while pursuing the path of gaining Islamic knowledge:
- Purify your intention before beginning to seek knowledge. Pray to Allah ﷻ to guide you to dependable information and to allow you to put what you learn into practice.
- Read the Qur’an and Ahadith with their respective translations on a regular basis, as these two are the ultimate authentic sources of our religion. For deeper and accurate explanation of the verses, read the Tafseer, guided by a reputable scholar. Reading them will make things easier because you will gain the correct understanding of what Allahﷻ says in the Qur’an. Learn Arabic to better understand the Qur’an and Ahadith.
- Avoid any source that contradicts the Qur’an or Hadith, whether it is a book, website, or scholar. Any source that legitimizes or supports innovative religious acts and practices is dangerous to seekers of ilm.
- Never compromise on the element of shirk. There are modern-day scholars who are lenient on fundamental issues; they allow the intermingling and free-mixing of men and women. It is strongly advised to avoid such scholars and institutions that change religious laws for their own benefit.
- Verify the aqeedah of the source you are obtaining information from. If the source believes in innovated matters, is ambiguous on the issues of fiqh, stresses upon taqleed (blindly following one of the schools of thought), interprets Qur’an as per their own knowledge, disregards the knowledge of the salafi scholars, rejects or does not give due importance to the Ahadith, then it is best to avoid following or taking information from such sources.
- Do not google your religious questions at random. There are numerous websites that provide inaccurate information. Therefore, one should exercise extra caution when searching for information about Islam on the internet.
Instead, consult with a local imam or shaykh who is knowledgeable about the deen, attend halaqas, listen to the Jumu’ah khutbah, and read books. Again, carefully examine these sources thoroughly in light of the previously mentioned points before following them.
- Enroll in physical or online institutes that operate in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. To ensure the authenticity of these institutes, conduct a background check on the founders and teachers (refer to point 5), and verify their aqeedah. If they indulge in practices or beliefs that are contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah, then consider it a red flag, and stay away.
- Learn the intricacies of Islam from reliable sources so that you can distinguish right from wrong, and guide others to do the same.
- Do not collect information from sources that identify with sects, because Islam is one religion and our beloved Prophet ﷺ warned us against these sects in numerous Ahadith.
While there are several intricate details to consider when seeking knowledge, these are a few basic points that a student of knowledge must consider to ensure they get their information from correct and authentic sources.
Written by: Iram Atiqulla
Edited by: The Editorial Team
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