Knowing how to study is just as important as studying if not more important. A student spends years studying, however if his methodology is inaccurate and imprecise, then he will fail in gaining maximum benefit.
The acquisition of knowledge requires three dimensions:
1) Abstinence from sin.
2) Constant, persistent and unceasing effort.
3) Retaining and preserving what was studied.
1) Abstinence from sin
As opposed to all sciences, the Islamic sciences are fused with spirituality and Allah consciousness. The stronger the bond with Allah, the greater the understanding of the Islamic sciences. The level of one’s Iman, actions and connection with Allah contribute to one’s knowledge. Knowledge of the Islamic sciences brings with it a huge responsibility. One who is well grounded in the dictates of Shari’ah has the task to promote truth and vanquish falsehood. To identify the truth as the truth and falsehood as falsehood, one needs to gaze at life with eyes immersed in Allah’s recognition. If one is not acquainted with Allah, he will be bereft of the divine light to guide him through the dark challenges of life.
Such qualities can only come with abstinence from sin. The underlying reason is that the Islamic sciences are not there simply to be ‘known’; the Islamic sciences are there to establish a civilisation based on truth, morals, ethics and principles. The purpose of learning is implementation.
Now coming onto how to acquire the Islamic sciences, the game plan is one: one has to punch above one’s weight. Greatness cannot be achieved by comfort. Greatness has locked horns with comfort and luxury. They are at loggerheads with one another. The two cannot go hand in hand. A student cannot reach the heights of the great scholars whilst sleeping eight hours a day, eating three course meals and playing Playstation. That’s a fact. Greatness demands great sacrifice. Greatness is not elusive; all of us can achieve it.
Knowledge demands a die-hard attitude. If a student understands this, he is one step away from success.
A student should do the following:
Spend at least 15-30 minutes a day previewing the upcoming lesson. He needs to become familiar with what he will study in the next lesson. At the same time, he should try and understand whatever he can whilst browsing through. Whatever is easy, he will understand right away. Whatever is challenging, he should mark that text. This will make him more focussed when listening to the commentary of that text from his teacher.
How many students are there in class but not there? Physically they are in a lesson but mentally they are touring the world! It is of utmost importance to stay mentally present. A student needs to listen to the lecture of his teacher very attentively. He needs to listen and capture the words of his teacher on paper. Whatever he marked out whilst previewing his lesson, he needs to be all ears at such places.
A weakness in many students today is the inability to engage with the teacher. Whatever the student has not understood should be ask to his teacher in a very respectable manner. A teacher is there to quell misunderstandings. One must ask his teacher if he has failed to understand. There is no room to be shy or embarrassed. As the famous saying of one of our pious predecessors states,
“A shy person and a proud person can never gain knowledge.”
If a person does not ask, that question will always remain. He will never be confident on the issue.
An important point we need to understand here is to be observant. At times the teacher is in a hurry or wants to finish a particular paragraph. Ask and engage the teacher when the teacher shows his readiness to accept questions. Many a time, a teacher mentions something and a student starts interrupting whilst the lesson is taking place. Even worse, at times the question posed by the student is answered in the book itself in the next sentence. Some teachers are ready to accept questions after a paragraph whilst others prefer at the end of the lesson. Every student should be mindful of his teacher’s preferences.
Once the day comes to an end for the world, the day just begins for a student! He has the whole night at his disposal. A student must sit daily to review today’s lesson and master its contents.
The student needs to preview and review at fixed times. He should accustom himself to a timetable. Everything should have an allocated time. The more a student nails himself to a schedule, the more he will progress.
Retention is probably one of the most important dimensions in acquisition. The science of logic (mantiq) defines knowledge as,
“That which is present in the mind.”
Whatever is not in the mind, is not known, hence it is not knowledge. Therefore, a student must memorise as much as he can. How many times are we discussing something we read the night before but cannot recall what we read?
The problem is we do not know how to retain information!
A student must allocate time daily for memorising key points and vital pieces of information. Early morning before or after fajr is the optimal time.
If a student can do the above, it is hoped he will be a very competent and proficient scholar. In the past, students lacked the facilities and the means. However, they had the muscle and resilience. Today we have the facilities and the means, we lack aspiration and belief. We must believe we can and we will.
By: Mufti Faraz al - Mahmudi (Student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai)
Aspire, Believe, Strike!
Written By: Mufti Faraz al -Mahmudi (Student of Mufti Ebrahim Desai Saheb)
Its not that we can’t do something; the problem is that we believe we can’t do it. This is the problem. It is a psychological problem. We do not dream of glory. We do not entertain thoughts of glory. Our aspirations have weakened. We do not desire what the students of the past desired. Our aims, goals and objectives have become tangible and materialistic. Their goals were of an intangible nature. They desired to please Allah in a way nobody has. They wanted to unlock the forgiveness of Allah with their humble efforts. They wanted to present something to the Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam not presented before. They wanted to serve the ummah and further the cause of Islam.
One has to enjoy what he does. If a person loves studying, he will study night and day. We have to feel a certain ecstasy when reading. If a person gets ‘high’ by reading the exegesis of the Qur’an, commentaries of the Ahadith and the manuals of Fiqh, then he will crave to read more and more.
There is nothing complex. We erroneously believe that greatness comes after enduring complexities. This cannot be further from the truth. We do not achieve greatness because we do not have a game plan.
Every person has talent. Talent is natural. However, skill is attained by beating on your craft over and over and over again. If a person relies on talent, his progress is limited. One does not have to be naturally bright or intelligent. An unintelligent person who has a ridiculous, sickening work ethic will surpass the lazy and lethargic intelligent ones. One has to work to be better every day.
You do not set out to build a wall; instead lay each brick as perfectly as you can, soon you will have a wall. We have to believe in ourselves. We can do it. We can achieve the goals and aspirations we hold. It is well within reach. There is no reason to have a plan B, it distracts from plan A. There has to be a desperate, obsessive focus to achieve what you want to achieve.
Being realistic is the most common road to mediocrity. What purpose does being realistic serve? That which is realistic will transpire. That which is realistic will take place. We have to be unrealistic. We have to dream and make the unrealistic realistic.
It was unrealistic to flip a switch and expect a light to come on. It was unrealistic to bend metal and have it travel over the Atlantic. It was unrealistic to be able to sit in metal and reach the moon. It was unrealistic to speak to someone in a different country whilst sitting in the comforts of your home. However, there were individuals who entertained unrealistic thoughts and made these ‘unrealistics’ a reality.
Don’t ever let someone tell you ‘you can’t do something’. If you want something, go for it. Nothing is unrealistic. Students can become the Imam Abu Hanifahs, Imam Shafis and Imam Bukharis of today. You have to believe and then put thoughts and dreams into action.
Glory awaits you. Enter the doors of history. Success is one step away.
Seeking the Help of Allah
When you feel alone. When everything you see is dark and grey. When you taste the bitterness of defeat. When you cannot reach out and touch your dreams. When all hope seems lost. You can either let this be your breaking point, or make it your turning point. What’s it going to be?
Do not lose hope in Allah, for He is the Creator. He will create another way for you. Never get tired of asking Allah for whatever you need.Allah says in the Quran: “And seek help in patience and prayer…” [Al-Baqarah: 45]
keep making Dua to Allah.Allah always answers prayers, but in his time not ours. He uses difficult times to teach us dependence and reliance upon Allah. He uses difficult moments to teach us humility and make us more humble.
Keep praying, keep striving, keep doing good, and keep being thankful, for indeed these qualities will improve your life in this world, and will be your means to entry into Jannah in Insha’Allah.