Wednesday 7 December 2022 \


Choosing the Correct Knowledge, the Teacher, the Companion and the Need for Steadfastness

A student should choose the best knowledge. Then he should consider studying that knowledge which is most essential for him from a religious point of view and what he requires for comfort in the hereafter.

Firsts comes the subject of tauhid 1 and the recognition of Allah (‘azza wa jall) by means of proofs. Although the belief of a muqallid is acceptable in or view, he is sinful if he abandons the proof. 2

He should choose the old narrations 3 and abandon the innovations. The scholars have said, “Adopt the old narrations and beware of the new ones”.

A student should refrain from involving himself in those issues which arose after the cream of the Ulama left this world.  These masail distance him from jurisprudence, destroy his life, create mutual enmity and they are a sign of Qiyamah and a sign of knowledge and jurisprudence leaving the world. This has been mentioned in a hadith.

As for choosing a teacher, he should choose the one who is the most learned, the most pious and senior in age just as Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) choose Hammad Ibn Abi Sulaiman (rahimahullah) 4 after pondering and reflecting. Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said, “I found him to be a dignified and forbearing teacher who was patient in all matters”. 5   

He also said, “I remained steadfast by him. As a result, my knowledge germinated by him”.

Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said, “I heard one of the sages of Samarqand saying, ‘A student came to consult me regarding studying. He had resolved to go to Bukhara to study’”.

One should in a like manner consult in all matters. Allah (‘azza wa jall) ordered Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to consult in manners whereas there was no one with greater understanding than him. In spite of that, he was told to consult. He consulted the Sahabah (radiallahu ‘anhum) in all matters and even in the necessities of his house.

Ali (radiallahu ‘anhu) said, “No person who consulted was ever destroyed”.

It is said that people are of three types: a perfect person, a half person and non-entity. A perfect person is one who has a correct opinion and he consults the intelligent ones. The second type is a half person whose opinion is correct but he does not consult or he consults but has no opinion. The third person is a non-entity – he neither has any opinion nor does he consult.

Ja’far As-Sadiq (rahimahullah) said to Sufyan Ath-Thauri (rahimahullah),“In your matters, consult those who fear Allah”.

The seeking of knowledge is one of the highest of matters and the most difficult. Accordingly, consultation regarding it will be more important and more essential.

The wise man continued, “When you go to Bukhara, do not be hasty in moving from one teacher to the next. Remain for two months until you ponder and choose a teacher. For if you go to a particular teacher, perhaps you may not be pleased with his lesson. In that case you will leave him and go elsewhere. In this manner, you will have no blessings in your seeking of knowledge.

Therefore ponder for two months regarding a teacher. Consult so that there is no need for you to leave him and turn away from him. Remain steadfast by him so that there are blessings in your knowledge and you will benefit much from your knowledge.

Remember that patience and steadfastness are great fundamentals in all matters but they are rarely found. As it has been said:

Every person makes a move in desiring to reach heights

However, to have steadfastness is extremely difficult.


There is a proverb that bravery is to be patient for a while.

It is therefore essential to remain steadfast by a teacher and to commit oneself to studying a book and not abandoning it. Once you are involved in one subject, do not preoccupy yourself in another subject until you have mastered the first one. Do not travel unnecessarily to another city because all these matters disperse your thoughts, preoccupy the heart, destroy time and hurt the feelings of the teacher.

Completely abandon all your carnal desires. A poet said:

Submitting to one’s carnal desires is the greatest disgrace

The greatest honour is to overcome one’s desires.

Bear all kinds of calamities and difficulties. It is said that treasures of favours are to be found on the heaps of trials and tribulations. The following verses were recited to me and are probably the statement of Ali (radiallahu ‘anhu): Remember, you cannot achieve knowledge except with six factors.

I will inform you of them all. 

Intelligence, desire to study, and sufficing on a little,

the guidance of a teacher and a long period of study.

As for choosing a colleague, it is essential to choose one who is diligent, pious and who has the correct temperament and understanding. Always keep away from one who is lazy, idle, neglectful, one who gossips, causes corruption and dissension.

A poet says:

Before finding out about person, examine the condition of his friend.

A companion follows the ways of his friend.

If he is an evil companion, keep away from him immediately.

If he is good, accompany him for you will be correctly guided.


These verses were also recited to me:

Do not befriend one who is lazy.

How many a good persons were spoilt due to the corruption of others.

The filth of a filthy mind rapidly affects the intelligence of an intelligent one.

Just as a burning ember is extinguished when placed in sand.


Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Every child is born with the inherent nature of Islam in him. However, it is the parents who either make him a Jew, Christian or Magian”.

It is mentioned in a Persian couplet:

An evil friend is worse than a poisonous snake.

Besides the pure being of Allah, there is no one.

The evil friend drags you towards hell.

Therefore search for a pious friend by means of which

your hopes of attaining heaven can be fortified.


It has been also said:

If you are searching for knowledge from the upholders of knowledge,

or you are searching for a person who knows about someone that is absent,

then the condition of the land can be gleaned from its citizen’s names

and the condition of a person can be gained from his companions.



1. tauhid – the oneness of Allah.   

2. The best proof is one that appeals to the nature of man and he is naturally forced to accept it. An excellent proof was tendered by a Bedouin who forcefully said, “The dung indicates the presence of a camel and the footprints indicate the presence of a traveler. Then why is it that the earth with all its valleys and the sky with its galaxies do not indicate the presence of a Being that is lofty and all powerful”.

3. Old narrations refer to those facts which have been unanimously accepted by the scholars as being correct due to their correct proofs. Innovations refer to those facts in which there are always differences and the opinions of people always clash regarding them.

4. He was from among the Tabi’in. He had encyclopedic knowledge and was a jurist per excellence. Imam Abu Hanifah learnt most of his knowledge from him and stayed with him for eighteen years. He passed away in 120 A.H. (738 C.E.).

5. He also said, “I have not found anyone more learned in jurisprudence than him”.

‘azza wa jall – Allah is full of glory and sublimity

rahimahullah – may Allah have mercy on him

sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam – may Allah send blessings and salutations upon him

radiallahu ‘anhum – may Allah be pleased with them

From the book “Teaching the student the method of studying” by Sheikh Burhanul Islam Az-Zarnuji.



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