Giving Priority to the Quran

Since 2014-01-10

Abu Anas Hamad al-’Uthman

Hudayfah - radhiallahu 'anhu - said:

The Messenger of Allah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam related two matters to us. I have seen one of them, and I am waiting for the other. He informed us: "Trustworthiness was sent down in the depths of the heart of the people, then they learnt it from the Qur'an, and then they learnt it from the Sunnah." 1

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr (825H) - rahimahullah - said:

"His saying: ' ... then they learnt it from the Qur'an, then they learnt it from the Sunnah.' So it occurs in this narration with the repetition of then, which contains an indication that they would learn Qur'an before learning the details of the Sunnah. And what is meant by the details of the Sunnah is anything that they would learn from the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam - whether it was obligatory or recommended."2

Al-Maymuni said:

I asked Abu 'Abdullah (Imam Ahmad) which is more beloved to you, that I should begin teaching my son the Qur'an or the Hadith? He said: "No! The Qur'an." I said: Shall I teach him all of it? He replied: "Unless that is difficult, in which case teach him some of it." Then he said to me: "If he begins reciting first, then he will learn correct recitation and will persevere in it."3

Ibn Muflih - rahimahullah - said:

"Upon this are the followers of Imam Ahmad right up until our time."4

Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) - rahimahullah - said:

"As for seeking to memorise the Qur'an, then this is to be given preference over many of the things that the people consider to be knowledge, but are - in reality - either totally useless, or having little benefit. It is also to be given precedence in learning especially by those who wish to acquire knowledge of the Din, its principles and its particulars. Since what is prescribed for such a person at this time is that he should begin by memorising the Qur'an, as it is the foundation of the branches of the knowledge of the Din. This is contrary to what is done by many of the people of Innovation from the non-Arabs and other than them, in that one of them will pre-occupy himself with superfluous parts of knowledge; such as kalam (rhetorical speech) and argumentation; or very rare matters of differences; and blind-following; which there is no need for; or very strange and rare ahadith, which are not established, nor of benefit; and many discussions which do not establish proofs. And he abandons memorising the Qur'an which is more important than all of this."5

Muhammad ibn Al-Fadl said:

"I heard my grandfather say: I asked my father for permission to study under Qutaybah so he said: 'First learn the Qur'an and then I will give you permission.' So I memorised the Qur'an by heart. So he said to me: 'Remain until you have led the people in prayer with it (i.e for Tarawih Prayer).' So I did so, then after the 'Eid he gave me permission, so I left for Marw."6

Ibn 'Abdul Barr (d. 463H) - rahimahullah - said:

"Seeking knowledge is of levels and is of different stages which should not be skipped over. Whoever skips over them altogether, then he has overstepped the path of the Salaf - may Allah have mercy on all of them. Whoever deliberately takes a path other than this has seriously deviated. However, whoever oversteps due to an ijtihad (a knowledge based judgment that a qualified Scholar makes, intending to reach the truth), then such a person has erred. So the first knowledge is memorisation of the Book of Allah and seeking to understand it. And it is obligatory to seek everything which will aid in understanding it. However, I do not say that is obligatory to memorise all of the Qur'an, but I do say that it is obligatory and essential for anyone who wishes to become a scholar - not that it is something obligatory in itself."7

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463H) - rahimahullah - said:

"It is fitting for a student that he begins with the memorisation of the Book of Allah - the Mighty and Majestic. Since it is the greatest of the branches of knowledge and that which should be placed first and given precedence."8

Al-Hadfidh An-Nawawi (d. 676H) - rahimahullah - said:

"So the first thing he should begin with is memorisation of the mighty Qur'an, which is the most important branches of knowledge. And the Salaf did not use to teach Hadith or Fiqh, except to one who memorised the Qur'an. So when he has memorised it, then let him beware of pre-occupying himself from it with Hadith, Fiqh or other things, to the extent that it leads him to forget anything of the Qur'an, or makes that likely."9

Seeking Knowledge in Due Amounts

Allah, the Most High - said:

"And this is a Qur'an which We have divided into parts, in order that you recite it to men at intervals. And we have sent it down in stages." [Al-Qur'an 17:106]

The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said to 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn Al-'As radhiallahu 'anhuma: "Read the Qur'an in every month." I said: I find that I have more strength than that. "Recite it in every twenty nights." I said: I find that I have more strength than that. "Then recite it in every seven days and do not increase upon that." 10

'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn Al-'As radhiallahu 'anhuma also related from the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam that he said: "He does not understand the Qur'an who recites it in less than three days." 11

'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Wahid - a companion of Al-Awza'i - said:

We read Al-Muwatta to Malik (d. 179H) in forty days, so he said: "A book that took me forty years to compile, you take from me in forty days! How little you understand of it."12

Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi said:

"It is fitting that he take care in acquiring knowledge and that he should not take too much in one go. Rather, he should take a little at a time, such that he can bear it, memorize it and be able to understand it. Because Allah - the Most High - says: 'And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur'an not sent down to him all at once? Thus (is it sent down in parts) that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages.' [Al-Qur'an 25:32]"13

Al-Khatib - rahimahullah - also said:

"And know that the heart is an organ from the organs. It is able to bear some things and unable to bear others - just like the rest of the body. Thus, some people are able to carry one-hundred pounds, whereas others are unable to carry even twenty. Some people are able to walk a number of mites in a day without tiring, whereas others are unable to even walk a mile in a day before they become tired ... So let each person limit himself to what he is able without expending all his energies, because that will better aid him in learning with a good mind, from a arm and proficient teacher."14

Supplicating for an Increase in Knowledge

Allah - the Most High - said:

"Say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge." [Al-Qur'an 20:114]

Umm Salamah - radhiallahu 'anha - said:u ’anhumâ also related from the Prophet sallâhu ’alayhi wa s

Allah's Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam used to supplicate in the morning Prayer: "O Allah! I ask you for beneficial knowledge, righteous action and pure sustenance." 15

Anas ibn Malik - radhiallahu 'anhu - said:nhumâ also related from the Prophet sallâhu ’alayhi wa s

I heard Allah's Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam supplicated: "O Allah! Benefit me with knowledge. Teach me that which will benefit me, and provide me with knowledge from which I can derive benefit." 16

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ja'far said:

I heard Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311H) being asked: From where did you acquire this knowledge? So he said: "Allah's Messenger sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: 'Zamzam water is that for which it is drunk.' 17 So when I drunk the Zamzam water, I supplicated to Allah for beneficial knowledge."18

Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:19

"The reality of this matter is that the servant differs in what he asks of knowledge and guidance, and of what he seeks to ask. So with remembrance of Allah and turning towards Him, Allah guides such a person - as He said: 'O My servants! All of you are misguided, except whomsoever I guide. So seek your guidance from Me.' 20 And as the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam used to say: 'O Allah! Lord of Jibril, Mikail and Israfil. The Originator of the heavens and the earths. Knower of the Unseen and the apparent. You judge between Your servants in that which he differs. So guide me in that which I differ from the truth - by Your permission. Indeed, You guide whomsoever You please, to a path that is straight.' "21

Source: From An-Nubadh fi Adab at-Talab al-'Ilm, pp. 61-66, slightly abridged, pp.67-69 (Seeking Knowledge in Due Amounts) and pp. 97-99 (Supplicating for an Increase in Knowledge). The text above was first published in Al-Ibaanah Magazine, Volume 3 (Dhul-Qa'dah 1416H / April 1996)

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