The path of knowledge is a long arduous path filled with innumerable difficulties and trials; a path that deprives it’s treader of the luxuries of this world, the pleasure of indulging in elegant food, the comfort of lengthy sleep, the vibrance of constant friendship and entertainment, the extravagance of free expenditure and the unparalleled blessing of free time. Indeed it is a path that requires mountainous patience and steadfastness as was narrated from Imam Yahya ibn Abi Katheer (rh): “You will not attain knowledge with the relaxation of the body”
But this does not mean that the path of knowledge is inaccessible to those who sincerely seek to venture into it. Knowledge is not exclusive to a chosen group of people but will grant itself to whomever seeks it if they prove themselves worthy through their fear of Allah, sincerity and steadfastness. Allah (swt) informs us of the condition to acquire knowledge in Surah al-Baqarah where He (swt) says: “…And fear Allah and Allah will teach you…” (2:282)
HOW DOES ONE PREPARE FOR THEIR QUEST TO SEEK KNOWLEDGE?
The prophet (saw) says in a hadeeth: “Indeed the actions are judged by their intention(s)” (Agreed upon). Upon the seeker of knowledge is to first keep in their mind and heart the intention to please Allah (swt) above everything else.
The seeker must keep some goals in front of him as he sets foot in the vast world of knowledge. The primary goal is to increase in the fear of Allah (swt) as He (swt) says: “Indeed those who fear Allah (swt) from his slaves are the learned”. Then he should intend by seeking knowledge a removal of ignorance from himself then from others and then to defend the religion.
Having awareness of the path and knowing what to expect on a pragmatic level is imperative for a person to remain on his quest for knowledge. The great scholars from the salaf to the khalaf all travelled from place to place tirelessly sitting at the feet of countless scholars, memorising countless ahadeeth and noting down innumerable matters of Fiqh. If one is unaware of the reality of the struggle, they will not find themselves steadfast and may give up earlier than they expect.
- MINDSET AND BEING GRATEFUL.
Having a balanced and open mind will enable the seeker to maximise his intake of knowledge and give him greatest yield from his efforts. A narrow mindset in the path of knowledge can be it’s very bottle neck; a barrier to learning and understanding. The seeker of knowledge is bound by time and human constraints, restricting his knowledge intake any further will only bring the opposite of any benefit, rather the seeker should be grateful of the path they’re on, the person they’re studying under and the science that they’re studying.
The path of the seeker of knowledge must be infused with the greatest of manners and etiquettes. They must be humble, patient, grateful, moral, ethical, generous and sincere. Having adab is the implementation of the knowledge that you gain, so it is imperative and a statement of practice from the seeker of knowledge.
- A SENSE OF GRADUALISM.
One mustn’t hasten to acquire knowledge in one go but should take it gradually; it is a step by step process. Time is a crucial condition for knowledge to give itself to it’s seeker, short term studies to achieve heights in knowledge is not possible and a mindset that needs correction. As it is said: “Knowledge is an ocean which has no shore”
- TAWFEEQ AND RELIANCE ON ALLAH.
The path of knowledge begins and ends with the tawfeeq (ability) from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) grants knowledge to whomever He wills, no matter how many books you read and how many scholars you study under, you will not attain true knowledge of the religion until Allah (swt) gives you tawfeeq so ask Him for help and guidance and keep your tawakkul (reliance) on him as much as you can.