Eat Little, Be Cautious, and Constantly Remember Allah

Ibn Jama’ah said:
“From the best ways to help yourself understand the knowledge you are dealing with and to prevent boredom from it is to eat very little, and from what is halal.

ash-Shafi’i said: “For the past sixteen years, I never ate my fill.” The reason for this is that eating excessively leads to excessive drinking and sleeping, dulling of the senses, and laziness of the body. This is all in addition to the fact that doing so is disliked in the Shari’ah, and exposes the body to all types of dangerous disease, as it was said:

Indeed, most of the diseases you see * Are from eating and drinking…

And none of the famous scholars or awliya’ were ever described as having eaten much, or was ever praised for doing so. Rather, excessive eating is a trait of mindless animals. A person’s intellect is the source of his deeds, and it is too noble to be hampered and wasted by such a despicable thing as excess food. If there were no downside to eating too much other than that it forces one to use the bathroom, this would’ve been enough for the intelligent one to steer clear of such a practice. And whoever attempts to be successful in seeking knowledge while insisting upon excessive eating, drinking, and sleeping is attempting the impossible.”

Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have Mercy on him) said:
“The desire of the stomach is the most destructive of them all, and it is what caused Adam (peace be upon him) to exit Paradise, and from the desire of the stomach comes the desire.”

[Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]

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Completely Free Your Heart for Knowledge and Remove All Obstacles

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have Mercy on him) said:
“Getting what you want depends on cutting off habits and attachment to anything else. Habits are when one leans towards what is more relaxing, such as the systems and traditions that people are accustomed to and place at the same level as the Shari’ah. In fact, they might even treat these habits with greater reverence than the Shari’ah, and reprimand those who do not abide by them – even declaring such a person to be a disbeliever, innovator, or misguided, and boycotting and punishing him for going against these traditions and habits. For the sake of these traditions, they kill off the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and make their own traditions as partners with him (peace be upon him) – declaring alliance and enmity for them. So, the good in their eyes is what goes along with these traditions, and the bad is what contradicts them.

These habits and traditions have taken over various groups of the children of Adam – the kings, the leaders, the jurists, the Sufis, the impoverished, the authority figures, and the general populace. So, the young are taught them at an early age, and the old are raised upon them, and they are treated like sunan. Rather, they are more important in the eyes of those who abide by them than sunan. Whoever is restrained by such habits is imprisoned, cut off, afflicted with great misfortune, and end up abandoning the Qur’an and Sunnah for them. Whoever seeks any type of honor with them is a fool with Allah, and whoever follows them instead of the Qur’an and Sunnah will not be accepted by Allah. These are the greatest barriers and obstacles for the slave on his journey to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
As for these obstacles, they are the many types of outer and inner contradictions to the Shari’ah that injure the heart upon its journey to Allah and render it immobile, and they cut it off on its path. They are three things: shirk, innovation, and sin. So, the obstacle of shirk is overcome by grasping onto Tawhid, and the obstacle of innovation is overcome by implementing the Sunnah, and the obstacle of sin is overcome by true repentance. These obstacles do not become evident to the slave until he actually begins his journey to Allah and the Hereafter. Only then are these obstacles noticed, and he will notice their handicapping effect in accordance with how intensely and attentively he is traversing this path. Otherwise, he will simply remain still, not feeling their hidden effects.

As for the connections to cut off, these are to anything that the heart can be attached and connected to in place of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) – of the pleasures and desires of this world, the fame it offers, and relationships with others. There is no way to cut off and push away these three things except with the strength of the connection and attachment to a higher goal. Otherwise, cutting these things off without attaching yourself to something else is impossible. The soul does not abandon the object it loves and desires except to attach itself to what is even more beloved and greater in importance to it than  what it has abandoned. The stronger its connection becomes to what it seeks, the weaker its connection becomes to anything else, and vice versa. The connection to the object that is sought is manifested in the intense desire for it, and this is in accordance with how much is known of this object, how noble that object is, and its virtue over everything else.”

[Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]

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Purify Yourself Inwardly and Outwardly From That Which Contradicts the Sharī’ah

It is upon the student of knowledge to purify himself outwardly by steering clear of innovations, beautifying himself with the sunan of the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) in all aspects of his life, preserving his wudū’, and keeping his body and appearance clean – all within reasonable means, and as much as he is able.

Ibn Abī Hātim reported that ‘Abd al-Malik al-Maymūnī said: “I do not know that I have ever seen anyone who wore cleaner clothes, was more attentive to trimming his moustache and grooming the hair on his head and body, or wore purer and whiter garments than Ahmad bin Hambal.” And this was because every single movement of Ahmad (may Allāh have Mercy on him) was in accordance with the Sunnah, as he said: “I never wrote a single hadīth except that I acted upon it, to the point that I came across a report that the Prophet (peace be upon him) got cupped and gave Abū Taybah (his cupper) a dīnār. So, I got cupped and gave the cupper a dīnār.

One shouldn’t misunderstand the encouragement to have clean clothes and be excessive and obsessive in regards to his clothing. Rather, one should be slightly less than this, considering that it is reported that the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) said: “Badhādhah is from faith.”

Ibn al-Athīr said: “Badhādhah is to have a plain, ascetic appearance…and he (peace be upon him) meant that one should be humble in his clothing, avoiding vanity.”

And al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī (may Allāh have Mercy on him) reported that Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Būshinjī said: “As for the badhādhah that the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) said is from faith, it is the plainness one displays in dress and garment, and this is humility from owning flashy, expensive clothing and garments. This is how the people of zuhd dress in this world.”

al-Khatīb (may Allāh have Mercy on him) said:

“The student of knowledge must set aside amusement, useless talk, and low speech when meeting and gathering with others, such as immaturity, laughter, giggling, and excessive joking. It is allowed for him to laugh mildly and rarely in a way that does not exceed the limits of the manner and style of one who is dealing with knowledge. As for constantly doing this, speaking about inappropriate, immature, and childish matters, excessive laughter and joking – this all reduces one’s esteem and manhood.

Mālik (may Allāh have Mercy on him) said: “It is upon the student of knowledge to manifest calmness, humility, and tranquility, and to follow in the footsteps of those who came before him.”

Muhammad bin al-Husayn reported from Sa’īd bin ‘Āmir that he said: “We were with Hishām ad-Dastawā’ī, and one of us laughed. So, Hishām said to him: “You laugh while you are a student of Hadīth?!””

‘Abd ar-Rahmān bin Mahdī reported that a man laughed in the presence of Hishām ad-Dastawā’ī. So, Hishām said to him: “Young man, you seek knowledge and laugh?!” The man replied: “Doesn’t Allāh make us laugh or weep?” Hishām replied: “Then weep!””

[Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]

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Purify Your Intention for Allāh in Seeking Knowledge

“…Know that intention (niyyah), will (irādah), and goal (qasd) are various terms that all mean the same thing, and it is a description of the state of the heart when it is a source for two things: knowledge and action.

Knowledge comes first – as it is the foundation and condition – and action follows it, since it is the fruit that branches from knowledge. This is because every action – that is, every intentional movement and motion – does not occur without three things: knowledge, will, and ability. Nobody does something without knowing of it. So, he must have knowledge. Likewise, nobody does something without having the will to do it. So, one must have the will to do something, and the meaning of will (irādah) is that the heart reaches out to what it sees as being in accordance with what it seeks.

The human was created such that he sometimes does that which is in accordance with what his heart seeks, and sometimes does that which conflicts with what his heart seeks. In such a case, he needs to draw near to that which is good for him, and to drive away what will harm him. This requires that he know and understand what will benefit and harm him, such that he can bring this close and avoid that, since whoever does not see or know what food is cannot reach over and pull it towards him, and whoever does not see fire cannot escape from it. So, Allāh has Created guidance and knowledge, and has provided certain means of attaining them, and these are the external and internal senses.

So, intention is essentially the will and the act of reaching out to and leaning towards what one seeks, whether this occurs retrospectively or at the time of seeing what is sought after. Therefore, the first step in one being pushed to do something is that he has a goal which motivates him to act, and goal is the target of one’s intention. One is pushed to go out and do something when he has a goal and intention, and directs his power and ability towards his goal by way of physical movement, and this is known as action…”

[Excerpts taken from book ‘The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker’]

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The Manners of the Knowledge Seeker

“I spent thirty years learning manners, and I spent twenty years learning knowledge.”
– ‘Abdullāh bin al-Mubārak


Purify Your Intention for Allāh in Seeking Knowledge

Purify Yourself Inwardly and Outwardly From That Which Contradicts the Sharī’ah

Completely Free Your Heart for Knowledge and Remove All Obstacles

Eat Little, Be Cautious, and Constantly Remember Allāh

Eat, Sleep, and Speak as Seldom as Possible

Reduce Socialization and Choose the Right Friends

Choose What to Start With and Who to Teach You

Have the Best Manners with Your Teacher

Treat Your Books Well


How to Act During a Lesson

Total Length:
71 pages

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