10 tips in learning fiqh

These notes are compiled from a lesson by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani (www.seeekersguidance.org).

What follows are ten useful tips on gaining and retaining a firm grasp of your knowledge of fiqh.

Knowledge of fiqh is very important and many born Muslims may not have revised core principles since they were children.  The importance of fiqh in everyday situations cannot be highlighted enough.  The following ten principles (5 outer and 5 inner) will help to underline the effort we should expend in learning fiqh.

The External Aspects

  1. Repeat/review. Bi taqrar yata’almu al-himar (by repetition even a donkey learns).  You need to review key concepts – integrals/conditions/definitions.  Scholars say that matters are known by their definitions.  This review can only done by repetition while seeking understanding i.e. by thinking rather than brainless repetition.
  2. Take notes.  This should be done while listening but to the teacher but also make notes by reading actively around the subject.  A good way to study is to draw diagrams which helps to visualise the concept i.e. 6 integrals of wudu. The taalib is an active seeker, rather than a “student” – seek knowledge from your teachers i.e. be active in your pursuit of knowledge.
  3. Ask questions.  It is said that asking questions is half of knowledge. Formulating the question can help you answer it yourself.  Don’t just ask about what you don’t know but also things that you may not be 100% sure about – this will give you decisive knowledge.
  4. Extra reading.  You should ensure that you are reading the best thing given your circumstances or your point in the journey.  If you are not sure what to read, ask.  When you are studying one book, read another book of a similar level alongside.  Read actively while taking down useful points – start with How to Read a Book.   Be like an eagle soaring over the book and pouncing down on useful points. A person who has read two books is not like the person who has read only one.
  5. Prepare for the class.  You should as a minimum have at least read over the text of the section, if you can do more, try to understand the text.  Try to look to see if you have any questions which arise from the text.  Write them down for the class, some will be answered during the lesson and others may not – then you can ask them.  Go to the lessons being more prepared for the subject than the teacher.

The Internal Aspects

  1. Have a high intention.  You will get waht you put in and intentions are are key to this.  Perhaps read The Book of Intentions or study the Hadith of Intention with a teacher.
  2. Have a clear sense of what you are seeking and why.  What am I trying to achieve – what am I trying to learn?  What benefit will this subject or book give me in this life and the next life?  An important reason for us learning is to teach our children.
  3. Veneration/respect.  This veneration and respons should be for the knowledge itself, the scholars and the writing of the scholars – even of those who differ from you. This will lead one to taqwa (piety). Part of this veneration is being in a state of purity/wudu while seeking knowledge.
  4. Having adab/manners. As with many of these points, whole books or treatises have been written about them – especially adab in seeking knowledge.  In short we should arrive early (not on time or late), we should be dressed in a respsectul manner i.e. coming to seek sacred knowledge and not off to a club, smell clean so as not to put off other students/teacher etc…
  5. Consistency. Maintain seeking knowledge, not putting it off because you are busy that particular day or week.  Do some reading, make a note, read a duah – do something a day.
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