Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
a) What is the minimum level of knowledge of his deen that is fardh for a Muslim i.e. in terms of aqeeda, ibadath, mua’milat etc.
It is obligatory to know that which will enable one to fulfill the obligatory (fard) and avoid all the prohibited (haram) related to everything Allah has made obligatory upon us in our own situation.
It is necessary (wajib) to know that which will enable us to fulfill all the necessary (wajib) and avoid all the prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) related to everything Allah has made necessary upon one, in one’s situation.
The same applies to the confirmed sunnas, recommended acts, and avoiding the blameworthy and somewhat disliked.
Every adult must know this related to their essential worship (purification, prayer, fasting when Ramadan comes, Hajj when one has the means), as well as any worldly activities one is involved in (such as trade, working, commerce, marriage, the halal and haram of food, clothing, social interaction, etc).
[ref: Haskafi/Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Barkawi/Nabulsi, Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha fi’l Hadhr wa’l Ibaha]
b) What are the recommended books for each of these subjects, to a non-scholar, in English. I understand that there is a recommended syllabus followed in Madrasas all over the world, but for somebody who is not studying in a madrasa what resources are available for him in these matters. I came across the Shafi reference work “Reliance of the Traveller” and was wondering if there is a similar work available for the Hanafi madhab in English.
A list of such references is being compiled, for the upcomingwww.SunniPath.com site, and will be posted on the Hanafi Fiqh forum, inshaAllah.
Despite some issues related to context and so on, Imam al-Tahanawi’s Heavenly Ornaments [available through www.al-rashad.com] remains the most thorough manual on Hanafi fiqh in English.
c) I heard an opinion from a scholar that one should not attempt to read the primary books of hadith i.e. the sihah sitta without the guidance of a scholar. Whereas another mentioned that it is recommended that one study these texts, because in the ahadith lies guidance. What should one do in these matters?
Normally, one should start with smaller works first, as they are easier to understand and more immediate in their benefit.
This would include Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadiths, whose meanings and lessons should be absorbed by the hearts and minds of every committed believer, and realized in their actions.
Imam Nawawi’s more extensive Riyad al-Salihin (‘Gardens of the Righteous’), which has approximately 2,000 hadiths, is an ideal manual for the character, manners, and life for the believer seeking to travel the path of the righteous towards the gardens of proximity to Allah Most High.
Imam Tabrizi’s Mishkhat al-Masabih (‘Niche of Lights’), is a more extensive collection of over 5,000 hadiths carefully culled from the top works of the Prophetic sunna. It has been taught for centuries across the Muslim world and has numerous commentaries in Arabic and other languages, including Mulla Ali al-Qari’s brilliant 10-volume Mirqat al-Mafatih. There is a good translation of Tabrizi’s Mishkat al-Masabih in English by James Robson. It is also available at http://www.al-rashad.com.
What one seeks from the works of hadith is guidance regarding the morals, manners, character, and way of life of a believer. As for deducing specific legal rulings, this is the realm of those who have specialized training [for the reasons explained by Sh. Nuh Keller and Sh. Abdal Hakim Murad in their brilliant articles on the need for qualified scholarship, which may be found athttp://www.masud.co.uk]. [And see article below by Sh. Nuh Keller.]
d) Finally, do you or the shuyukh recommend any kind of daily reading schedule of the Holy Quran, Tafsir, Fiqh, Seerah etc. I do not have regular access to scholars where I live, so I am hard put to find answers.
One should first of all strive to find scholars one can seek guidance from, and then ask them how to go about learning and implementing the deen of Islam according to the way of the Beloved of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him & give him peace).