Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
It all started when I was clueless about my religion. I read many law books, articles, spent time on many blogs but always procrastinated when it came to learning the teachings of Islam.
I mean, I knew how to pray (ish) , the 5 pillars (ish) and other bits but it all lacked substance as I didn’t really know why I did most acts of worship. What that caused, was laziness and lack of motivation to want to continue doing anything Islam related.
The Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم said that seeking knowledge is a way leading to Paradise. He said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allaah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhaari)
That above hadeeth motivated me to pick up an English translation of the Qur’an one day to read. I needed to understand its teachings but however, I ended up putting it away as I couldn’t really understanding the chapter I read which I believe was ‘Baqarah’. However, I would listen to Mufti Ismail Menk’s talks on Muslim Central podcast which by the way you should check out if you haven’t already. Podcast is quite handy as it’s just an app on your phone and you can listen to it while cooking, on a journey or in your free time.
His talks made me realise that I did not know much about my religion and obviously, if one doesn’t know about the teachings then how would they possibly submit themselves to the message? In case you are wondering, I am born a Muslim but to me, Islam was just a religion I inherited from my parents.
I was taught how to pray from an early age and how to recite some chapters from the Qur’an but to be honest, that was it. I lacked understanding of the religion and hated being questioned on why I follow Islam simply because I myself did not know why.
‘Sorry I don’t eat pork’ ‘Sorry I don’t drink alcohol’ were answers I gave to people without knowing the reason why. It made me question myself, my life and the religion. I did not know why I had to perform acts of worship, the true meaning of ‘lailaha illala’ and to cut a long story short, I needed to know why Islam?
Alhamdullilah, Allah directed me to the right people and at the right time. I had the intention to learn and I desperately needed my questions answered. I had a flat mate who masha Allah would drop a hadeeth here and there trying to encourage me and this helped a lot but it did not answer the questions I had.
Obviously, If you are just like me, you must have gone through the stages of asking sheikh google so many questions and reading different opinions of people which you would sometimes agree with and sometimes disagree with.
My first step towards trying to find answers was reaching out to close friends who I was satisfied with when it came to their level of piety. Yes, I am selective like that when it comes to who I take knowledge from. I enrolled at Regent’s Park Masjid for a Tawheed course which was a free 12 week class in a mixed gathering I attended once a week on a Thursday evening. This decision was mainly influenced when one of my friends who I approached mentioned the following hadeeth:
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: When the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu`adh to Yemen, he said to him, “You are going to a nation from the people of the Scripture, so let the first thing to which you will invite them, be the Tauhid of Allah. If they learn that, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them, five prayers to be offered in one day and one night. And if they pray, tell them that Allah has enjoined on them Zakat of their properties and it is to be taken from the rich among them and given to the poor. And if they agree to that, then take from them Zakat but avoid the best property of the people.”
The hadeeth made so much sense to me. The foundation of Islam being Tawheed, was something that I needed to learn first for a better understanding. During the course, we were taught the fundamental part of Islam, the oneness of Allah, ‘tawheed’.
I found the course thought-provoking and it was what I actually needed at that point in time in order to learn about the pillars of Islam and Imaan. It was from there that my interest in the religion started growing. I started to enjoy reading short forwarded Islamic messages (emphasis on short as I have a short term memory and get bored easily) and asking a lot of questions from contacting different Imams to friends that are just a phone call or WhatsApp message away. I also read about the ‘seerah’ meaning life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. It enabled me to understand why some verses of the Qur’an were revealed. Insha allah I will try and share some of the books in my ‘Muslim shelf space’ which I find beneficial in my next post.
A great reminder to myself first and foremost is that The Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim and he explained that the superiority of the one who has knowledge over the one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body. He said that the Prophets, may Allah exalt their mention, did not leave behind any money, rather their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share.
Today Alhamdullilah, especially with the advancement of technology, things have been made easy for us. While it is true that not everyone has the ability to travel far and wide to seek knowledge from scholars , most of us do however, have the opportunity to sit at home and watch webinars, streamed videos of talks/conferences, join and participate in WhatsApp / Viber and telegram groups sharing Islamic messages, listen to podcasts or youtube videos of our favourite Islamic speakers and for some, even attend free events at local masjids. Subhanallah, life has been made so easy for us and it is imperative that we try and learn especially about Tawheed to have a sound aqeedah (creed), the pillars of Islam and Imaan, reading the Qur’an with tafseer to understand the teachings of Allah.
Knowledge indeed does bring a great reward. The one who points the way to something good is like the one who does it. When the knowledgeable person dies, his reward with Allaah does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge. The Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم said: “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three – an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1631)
Perhaps you might prefer to learn in groups which is usually easier. I did struggle with this initially as I had to attend most of the lectures alone but now Alhamdullilah. If you are fortunate enough to have close friends who also wish to seek knowledge, try and look up for events near you which you can attend, or listen to a talk together at home and try to discuss some of the key points mentioned. Do not be afraid to ask questions. I think I overdo my questioning though but hey, insha allah khair. Feel free to ask questions to your local imams or other people close to you that you think might direct you to the correct answers but not ask to find fault (I’ll touch on that topic some other day Insha Allah).
Hers’s one of my favourite dua’s from the Qur’an which is short, easy to memorise and I pray Allah accept from us ameen.
Rabbi zidni ilma : O my Lord! Increase me in Knowledge [surah Ta-Ha; 20:114]
Do you know of any other useful sites or blog ? Please recommend insha allah 🙂
By the way, if anyone is interested in a sisters study circle on WhatsApp, feel free to send me a message and insha allah I will give you details of the group.
Below are some sites I find useful and which I’ll recommend insha allah
Barakallahu feekum and Asalamu 'alaikum Your Sister in Islam (Umm Yusuf / Mina)
Recommended sites :