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Why is it important to learn Islamic knowledge through the traditional methods?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

1) Why is it important to learn deen and Islamic knowledge through the traditional methods. ie through proper sanads? I see many people learning Islam through opening a Bukhari/Muslim or opening the Quran without the guide of a teacher or teachers who have learnt Deen from their teachers with continuous chain. 

2) what is the differences between learning Deen through authentic sources (eg Quran & Sahih Hadith) vs following a Madhab? Can one be on the rightpath today without following a Madhab?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

1. The question that you have posed is one of the greatest challenges of our time due to unlimited information being accessible in many forms, such as the internet. Such a dilemma that is present in this era has made many people of our generation oblivious of the importance of seeking Shari’ah knowledge through an ‘Alim. We observe many people drawing their own conclusions in matters of Shar’iah and have made serious errors.

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 ‘Ulama. The first teacher of this ummah was our beloved Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) who taught the Sahaba (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), they then taught the Tabi’een (rahimahumullah), who in turn taught the Tab’e Tabi’een (rahimahullah) and who in turn taught our predecessors. As such, the knowledge of Shari’ah was transferred from generation to generation in this manner.[1]

Regarding the importance on learning deen from the traditional methods, Shiekh ‘Abdul Fattah Guddah (rahimahullah) mentions: “….Reading books or listening to tape recordings today without a teacher or an instructor does not give sound and complete understanding, and does not instil pure, accurate and authentic knowledge because they are an aide and not a teacher, a tool for remembering and not a means of making one’s (knowledge) sound. This is why they said ‘the one whose sheikh is a book, his mistakes will be more frequent than his accuracy,’ because imitation dominates in taking (knowledge) from books. [2]

It is mentioned in Sheikh Muhammad ‘Awwamah’s (damat barakaatuhu) Ma’alim Irshadiyyah that it was commonly said amongst the Salaf (pious predecessors):

 “To seek refuge in Allah from having paper as their shaykh”.[3]

It is also mentioned in Ma’alim Irshadiyyah that “in the earlier times knowledge was found in the chests of men. Then it was transferred to books, but the keys still remain in the hands of men. This statement determines that men are still necessary in the acquisition of it (ilm), as there is no target beyond these two ranks (books and men). The basis for this is in the Sahih (of al-Bukhari): “Indeed Allah will not take away knowledge (from this world) by snatching it away from the people, rather He will do so by taking away the ‘Ulama”. He writes further: “Since it is so, there is no doubt that the keys to knowledge are its bearers (‘Ulama)”.[4] 

Once when Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) was informed of a group of people that sit in a “halaqah” (circle) discussing matters fiqh (jurisprudence) in the Masjid, he enquired: “Do they have a leader (Teacher)?” They replied: “No”. Imam Saheb (rahumahullah) responded: “These people will never acquire (true) fiqh”.[5]

2. As Muslims, we are commanded to follow the Qur’an and Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). However, it is impossible to abide by such a command without the guidelines and instructions of our predecessors. As such, in order for one to follow the Qur’an and Hadith, one cannot do so without adhering to the madhaahib of our illustrious Fuqaha, i.e. the madhab of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi‘i and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahumullah).

Following a madhab is in essence following the Qura’n and Hadith, one cannot practice upon the Qur’an and Hadith without adhering to a madhab.

For further information regarding the importance of taqleed, you may refer to the following article in the link below:

http://www.askimam.org/public/question_detail/29877

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Fahad Abdul Wahab

Student Darul Iftaa

USA

Checked and Approved by,

Mufti Ebrahim Desai                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.Daruliftaa.net


[1]  معالم ارشادية لصناعة طالب العلم ص١٥٩ دار اليسر و دار المنهاج . المعلم الثامن: ضرورة تلقي العلم عن الشروع

[2]  …..ولهذا قالوا: من كان شيخه الكتاب، كان خطؤه اكشر من الصواب، لان التلقي من الكتب تسود فيه المتابعة…

[المدخل الى علوم الحديث الشريف ص ٨٧ مركز الدعوة الاسلامية داكا بنغلاديش]

[3]  التعوذ بالله من تشييخ الصحيفة

[معالم ارشادية لصناعة طالب العلم ص١٧٩ دار اليسر و دار المنهاح]

[4]  المرجع السابق ص ١٧٤

[5]  المرجع السابق ص١٦٣

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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