by Sumayyah Meehan*
فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ ۗ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ ۖ وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
Supremely exalted is therefore Allah, the King, the Truth, and do not make haste with the Quran before its revelation is made complete to you and say: O my Lord! increase me in knowledge.(QS:Thahah:114)
What’s the first thing you do after acquiring a new tech gadget?
Most likely, you scramble to read the instructions so that you can learn all the features and functions of your new toy.
Within a mere matter of hours of opening it, you’ve already learned all the ins and outs of the gadget. And within only a few days you will have mastered it. The reward for learning how to use this new tool is in the countless functions it offers, like being able to place a phone call or download beneficial apps. In this world, there are several instances where we can achieve rewards for acquiring knowledge. However, none of them equal even the minutest fraction of the reward for seeking knowledge in Islam.
When it comes to seeking knowledge in Islam, there is even a greater reward to be achieved and it comes directly from God Almighty who revealed in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمْ تَفَسَّحُوا فِي الْمَجَالِسِ فَافْسَحُوا يَفْسَحِ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا قِيلَ انْشُزُوا فَانْشُزُوا يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
O you who believe! when it is said to you, Make room in (your) assemblies, then make ample room, Allah will give you ample, and when it is said: Rise up, then rise up. Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees; and Allah is Aware of what you do.(QS: Al-Mujadilah : 11).
It is compulsory upon all Muslims to seek knowledge. Reverts need to be proactive in learning as much about Islam from the moment they take the shahadah (declaration of faith). With the precarious nature of life, there’s not a moment to lose. Increasing your Islamic knowledge begins today!
Get a handle on the basics
Seeking knowledge in Islam may seem like a daunting task, at first, for a new Muslim. However, new Muslims must not be deterred on their path to seeking knowledge and should start with the basics to get a handle on their new religion.
A great starting point is with the five pillars of Islam, which are: Testimony of Faith, Prayer, Zakah, Fasting in Ramadan and the Pilgrimage to Makkah. The five pillars of Islam give a Muslim his identity and help him forge a bond with the Creator as well as with members of the Ummah from around the world.
Learning the basics of Islam, from authentic sources, is one of the very first ways in which a new Muslim can seek knowledge. Speak with your local Imam and ask him to recommend an Islamic book to help you learn the basics of Islam. Some mosques even offer a buddy system that pairs reverts with seasoned Muslims to facilitate the learning of the basics of Islam.
Read a Translation of the Quran
Since many reverts to Islam are non-Arabic speakers, it is ideal for a new Muslim to read a translation of the Quran in his own language in addition to the commentaries provided below the text. A new Muslim can gain great benefit and understand the message of the Quran by reading a translation at least once. Many non-Arabic speaking Muslims make the mistake of learning the Quran in Arabic without being able to understand the meaning behind it. As Muslims, we are encouraged to think and ponder over the words of God:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا
Do they not then reflect on the Quran? Nay, on the hearts there are locks. (QS: (Muhammad: 24)
There is no better way to understand the message of the Quran than to read a translation of it in your own language first.
It’s important to note that a translation of the Quran is just that; the true Quran is in Arabic. Reverts to Islam must strive to read and learn the Quran in its natural state of Arabic at some point. These days it is easier than ever to learn both written and spoken Arabic. Our Digital Age has provided us with all of the tools necessary to learn Arabic from the comfort of our own homes.
The Internet is an excellent resource for learning Arabic from a reputable source. There are qualified Arabic instructors available that teach students the Arabic language exclusively online or through email communications. You can even download an app to your smart phone to learn Arabic whenever you are away from home. The true beauty of the Quran can only be realized in its natural state of Arabic.
Seek Knowledge from Islamic Books
There are a plethora of Islamic books on the market today that teach Muslims everything from how to treat others to how to live a halal lifestyle. Reputable and authentic books also include verses from the Quran or Hadiths that support each recommendation. It’s important to make sure that you select books that are in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). When in doubt, ask the Imam at the mosque to verify that the book is trustworthy. In addition to these books, a new Muslim can gain great insights into Islam by reading a biography of the Prophet Muhammad who was referred to as the “walking Quran” because he lived every inch of Islam.
The books of Tafsir, Hadith, and Fiqh are just a few of the other resources that can help a Muslim grow his faith just like a flourishing garden in the midst of a desert oasis.
Moderation is the Key
While it is important to make haste when seeking knowledge, one must not go overboard and should seek a middle path. It’s important to keep up with other responsibilities, like praying on time or holding down a job.
When seeking knowledge, reverts must strike a balance that helps to maintain the various aspects of their lives while learning at the same time. This can be achieved with careful scheduling and time management skills to ensure that your quest for knowledge continues on course, just like a boat navigating the murky waters of the tempestuous ocean.
Remember, your reason for seeking knowledge is to please God and draw nearer to Him. It’s not a race to be won or a competition with someone else. Seeking knowledge is an act of worship that will result in immense dividends in this life and the Hereafter. (T/Imt/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)