Assalaamualaikum Mufti Saab. I hope you are doing well. Sorry to disturb. But I have a question. I’m really confused on this matter.
I want to learn more about Islam but I don’t understand who to learn from. I see a lot of Doctors and professors that give lessons on Islam etc and really good lectures , they even have their own books as well about topics in Islam etc. But a lot of the time people say to me that I shouldn’t listen to them, I should listen and learn from ‘Aalims’ or I will be misguided. Even some of these ‘Aalims’ say to stay away from them, but a lot of the time I receive better help from these ‘Doctors’ and they seem to give more better advice and they say things which make sense.
In fact some of these Aalims I see, seem to themselves not act upon what they say and still demand respect and say that we should listen to them and we will be safe etc. Some of the worst charactered and most arrogant people that i’ve ever met are ‘Ulama’. I know people who have graduated as ‘Aalims’ but watch porn, listen to music, watch movies, interact with girls etc. Then these same people are giving talks for hours and they want you to accept what they say is right as right, and what they say is wrong as wrong. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Then I thought maybe I should learn from YouTube etc because any Ulama I want time from to learn, don’t have time, but at the same time they advise me to avoid learning from the Internet. I don’t feel comfortable asking them this personally and neither do I think ill get a satisfying response so I have found your website and decided to ask you
Here are my Questions:
1) What in the world is an ‘Aalim’, what is his role, where do these ‘Aalims’ come from, and why do I have to listen to them only, especially when they themselves openly disobey Allah or show negligence towards his commands?
2) Why am I not allowed to learn about Islam from these ‘Professors, doctors and sheikhs, is there some kind of ruling in the Quran or Hadith that these people aren’t allowed to teach Islam and only a person certified as an ‘Aalim’ can teach?
3) When these Aalim people are so busy with their own personal lives where am I supposed to learn from and why can’t I use the Internet etc for my learning?
4) With all this corruption and confusion of who’s wrong, who’s right and each person saying the other persons wrong and doesn’t have correct knowledge of Islam what is a normal person like me supposed to do. How am I supposed to differentiate between which source is valid for me to take from or not? Especially when the people who apparently know (Aalim) seem to even be lazy about Important things like Salah etc.?
5) I’m thinking about trying to just learn Arabic myself and just Read the Quran and some Sayings of the prophet (pbuh) myself so I don’t have to depend on any of these other people, is that okay?
Thank you for your time, Sorry for the long message and for taking so much time but I just need to understand this. All help and guidance will be much appreciated. May Allah reward you and give us all the correct guidance. Aameen.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Brother in Islam,
We are pleased to hear that you have the zeal to seek knowledge of Dīn. We make Du’a to Allah Ta’ala to keep you firm and steadfast on Dīn & grant you beneficial knowledge. Amin.
You ask us regarding the meaning of an Alim and what is his role.
The sign of a true Alim is mentioned directly in the Qurān: Allah Ta’ala the Almighty states:
انَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ
“Only those who fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge.”[i]
It is clear from this verse that a true Alim is he who has Allah consciousness in him. He conducts his life according to the dictates of Allah Ta’ala and Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallalāhu Alaiyhi Wasallam)
You mentioned that Ulama openly disobey Allah Ta’ala. You may be correct. However, it is not correct to paint everyone with the same brush stroke. Today Muslims are being treated the same way by the media. If one does wrong, all are guilty, and we state repeatedly that this is unfair. How can we apply the same biased standard to every single Alim?
Rasulullah (Sallalāhu Alaiyhi Wasallam) states:
لا يَزالُ طائِفَةٌ مِن أُمَّتي ظاهِرِينَ، حتَّى يَأْتِيَهُمْ أمْرُ اللَّهِ وهُمْ ظاهِرُونَ
“A group of my ummah will remain victorious over the people until the decree of Allah reaches them.”[ii]
Allāmah Anwār Shah Kashmiri (Rahmatullāh Alaihi) mentions that such groups of people are referring to “Ulama”. They will always remain in this world in order to preserve the various teachings and practices of Islam until it is the will of Allah (death).[iii]
You enquired “why should a person learn from a scholar”.
We ask you a simple Question. When somebody has a heart condition, he doesn’t even go to a pediatrician or a brain surgeon let alone a person who is not a doctor. Rather, he goes to a cardiologist who specializes in the heart. For the body, that will perish one takes so much care in going to the right specialist, and yet for the soul, a person is willing to risk going to anyone? Even among the Sahabah (Radiyāllahu ‘Anhum), they would turn to the ones known for their knowledge and expertise in fiqh. If the companions, who had physically seen the Prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and were witnesses to the revelation descending, would turn to experts among themselves, then how can a person in our times turn to those who are not eligible to fulfill this great responsibility? Therefore, at the very least, one should look for someone who is a learned scholar.
The following criteria serves as a guideline in determining a reliable scholar of Dīn:[iv]
1. He is from the Ahlu al-Sunna wa al-Jama‘a in ‘Aqida (creed) and Fiqh (jurisprudence).
2. He is a graduate of an accepted Islamic institute.
3. He does not violate the laws of Sharī‘a.
4. His teachings and statements are in accordance with the Sharī‘a.[v]
5. He does not engage in Bid‘a (reprehensible innovation).
6. He is recognized and authorized by righteous learned scholars.
If any of the above guidelines are violated, then one should not follow such a person.
Imam Muhammad ibn Sirin (Rahimahullāh) advised:[vi]
إِنَّ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ دِينٌ، فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأْخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ
This knowledge is Deen, so be cautious of from whom you take your Deen.[vii]
In your query you state, “why isn’t one allowed to learn from professors, doctors, and shakhys”.
It is important to note that even though there maybe various qualified professors, doctors and shaykhs. There are also many who do not have enough knowledge skills to correctly guide the masses. Merely having an academic background in Islām should not make a person think that he is able to impart the knowledge of this Dīn. We have seen many people who have such degrees, but they are not concrete in knowledge or in Fiqh, and they are not qualified to issue fatwas, because they fell short and did not continue in attaining more knowledge. To ensure that such a scholar is reliable will be based on the acceptance by traditional scholars. Thereafter, one may study from such a person. Our scholars study their Dīn directly from teachers. They were very particular in learning the Dīn only from righteous, qualified scholars. Consider this point. If an ‘Alim has some understanding of medicine, would you consult him on a medical issue, or would you consult a qualified doctor?
You also mention that “Alim/scholars are so busy with their own personal business.”
Dear brother, a qualified Scholar is more than ready to give time and impart the knowledge of this Mubarak Dīn. If you really have the zeal to learn or ask questions from an Alim, Allah will surely make ways for you.
Consider the following Hadith:[viii]
من سلك طريقا يلتمس فيه علما سهل الله له طريقا إلى الجنة وإن الملائكة لتضع أجنحتها رضا لطالب العلم وإن طالب العلم يستغفر له من في السماء والأرض حتى الحيتان في الماء
“Whosoever treads any path in search of (deeni) knowledge, Allah will make the path to Jannah easy for him, the Angels spread out their wings out of pleasure for the seeker of knowledge, those in the sky and the fish in the ocean seek forgiveness on behalf of the one seeking knowledge”
You enquired “why shouldn’t you learn from the internet.” And “it is difficult to differentiate between right and wrong because of different people criticizing each other’s statements. Therefore, one may easily be confused and misguided”.
It is imperative to note that the method in which this divine knowledge was passed down to us by our predecessors was from heart to heart which required one to be under the direct tutorship and supervision of scholars. Attaining knowledge from the internet can mislead someone as it may even affect ones Imān. For example, there are many websites on the internet that contains incorrect information about Islām because of which, many people have been misguided. The truth is, there are people out there with so much hate and animosity in Islām that some websites were even made by the enemies of Islām to purposely display incorrect information about Islām to misguide Muslims. Knowledge is very sacred and precious. Extreme caution must be practiced when acquiring it. It is imperative that you ensure that such a course is offered by reliable scholars who are accepted by our traditional scholars.
Below are two distant learning programs that we recommend:[ix]
You also wanted to learn Arabic by yourself and read Quran.
Firstly, we would advise you to learn Quran, Hadith, and the Arabic language under a qualified scholar or take the online course. However, if you still desire to study Arabic on your own, you may read the following books:
1. Quraanic Arabic – the language of the Quraan (an elementary source in
Arabic for non-Arabs by Dr. Omar A Farrukh, Kazi Publications, 121
Zul-Qarnayn Chambers, Ganpat Road, Lahore, Pakistan
2. Teach Yourself Arabic by Syed Ali, Kazi Publications, 121 Zul-Qarnayn
Chambers, Ganpat Road, Lahore, Pakistan
3. Arabic Made Easy by Abul Hashim, Distributed by: SH Mohammed Ashraf –
Publisher and Bookseller, 7 Aibak Roaf, (New Anarkali), Lahore, Pakistan
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Student Darul Iftaa,
Buffalo, NY, U.S.A
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
سورة فاطر اية28
صحيح البخاري (9/ 101)
«لا يزال طائفة من أمتي ظاهرين، حتى يأتيهم أمر الله وهم ظاهرون»
فيض الباري على صحيح البخاري (6/ 528)
باب قَوْلِ النَّبِىِّ – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: «لاَ تَزَالُ طَائِفَةٌ مِنْ أُمَّتِى ظَاهِرِينَ عَلَى الْحَقِّ يُقَاتِلُونَ»
وَهُمْ أَهْلُ الْعِلْمِ
شعب الإيمان (12/ 56)
قَالَ: قَالَ أَبُو قِلَابَةَ: ” لَا تُجَالِسُوا أَهْلَ الْأَهْوَاءِ وَلَا تُجَادِلُوهُمْ , فَإِنِّي لَا آمَنُ مِنْ أَنْ يَغْمِسُوكَ فِي ضَلَالَتِهِمْ أَوْ يَلْبِسُوا عَلَيْكُمْ مَا يَعْرِفُونَ.
سنن الدارمي (1/ 387)
قَالَ أَبُو قِلَابَةَ «لَا تُجَالِسُوا أَهْلَ الْأَهْوَاءِ وَلَا تُجَادِلُوهُمْ، فَإِنِّي لَا آمَنُ أَنْ يَغْمِسُوكُمْ فِي ضَلَالَتِهِمْ، أَوْ يَلْبِسُوا عَلَيْكُمْ مَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْرِفُونَ»
تفسير القرطبي (8/ 295)
(مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا سَلَكَ اللَّهُ بِهِ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ الْمَلَائِكَةَ لَتَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا رِضًا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ وَإِنَّ العالم ليستغفر له من في السموات وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَالْحِيتَانُ فِي جَوْفِ الْمَاءِ وَإِنَّ فَضْلَ الْعَالِمِ عَلَى الْعَابِدِ كَفَضْلِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ عَلَى سَائِرِ الْكَوَاكِبِ وَإِنَّ الْعُلَمَاءَ وَرَثَةُ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ وَإِنَّ الْأَنْبِيَاءَ لَمْ يُوَرِّثُوا دِينَارًا وَلَا دِرْهَمًا إِنَّمَا وَرَّثُوا الْعِلْمَ فَمَنْ أَخَذَ به أخذ بحظ
سنن ابن ماجه (1/ 81)
: «مَنْ سَلَكَ طَرِيقًا يَلْتَمِسُ فِيهِ عِلْمًا، سَهَّلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ طَرِيقًا إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ، وَإِنَّ الْمَلَائِكَةَ لَتَضَعُ أَجْنِحَتَهَا رِضًا لِطَالِبِ الْعِلْمِ
شرح السنة للبربهاري (ص: 123)
إن هذا العلم دين فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم،
صحيح مسلم (في المقدمة) (1/ 14)
حَدَّثَنَا حَسَنُ بْنُ الرَّبِيعِ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ أَيُّوبَ، وَهِشَامٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَحَدَّثَنَا فُضَيْلٌ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ قَالَ: وَحَدَّثَنَا مَخْلَدُ بْنُ حُسَيْنٍ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِيرِينَ، قَالَ: «إِنَّ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ دِينٌ، فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأْخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ»
موطأ مالك ت الأعظمي (1/ 25)
وقال ابن أبي أويس: «سمعت خالي مالك بن أنس يقول: إنّ هذا العلم دين فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم … ».
لمعات التنقيح في شرح مشكاة المصابيح (1/ 610)
(ابن سيرين) قوله: (إن هذا العلم) أي: علم الحديث وما جاء من عند رسول اللَّه -صلى اللَّه عليه وسلم- (دين) أي يبتني عليه الدين ويثبت (فانظروا عمن تأخذون دينكم) حث على الاهتمام بحال الراوي في رعاية الوثوق والديانة والحفظ والورع
سنن الدارمي (1/ 396)
كَانُوا لَا يَسْأَلُونَ عَنِ الْإِسْنَادِ، ثُمَّ سَأَلُوا بَعْدُ لِيَعْرِفُوا مَنْ كَانَ صَاحِبَ سُنَّةٍ أَخَذُوا عَنْهُ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ صَاحِبَ سُنَّةٍ، لَمْ يَأْخُذُوا عَنْهُ» قَالَ أَبُو مُحَمَّدٍ: «مَا أَظُنُّهُ سَمِعَهُ مِنْ عَاصِمٍ»
سنن الدارمي ت الغمري (ص: 177)
كَانُوا لَا يَسْأَلُونَ عَنِ الإِسْنَادِ ثُمَّ سَأَلُوا بَعْدُ لِيَعْرِفُوا مَنْ كَانَ صَاحِبَ سُنَّةٍ أَخَذُوا عَنْهُ، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ صَاحِبَ سُنَّةٍ لَمْ يَأْخُذُوا عَنْهُ