The Busy Student’s Guide to Gaining Islamic Knowledge [With exact resources]

By Ameen at Seera Masters | Personal Growth

Listen to audio version: on iTunes or stream below. 

 

I’ve been there too..

You really want to gain Islamic knowledge:

  • to please Allah,
  • to know what is right and what is wrong,
  • and to fend off all the confusion differences of opinion.

You’ve heard time and time again that the way forward for you, your family and the ummah is to come back to the Quran and Sunnah by learning more and applying it.

The problem? You’re a student!

You feel like you have very little free time and when you set out to invest time learning you don’t know what will give you a good return on the time (ROI) you spend.

You’re not lazy, just short on time.

You might watch a few lectures on Youtube when you get the chance but the speakers rarely go into depth in a 45 minute charity event reminder.

You love reminders, but you want to feel like you actually know something solid!

One week it’s a talk on death, one week it’s marriage and another it’s about Surah Al Mulk. All great topics of course, yet no consistency and it rarely moves you to take action.

From confusion to curriculum

(If you don’t care about my short, personal journey through this then skip to the next section)

I always used to pray w lilah alhamd (and to Allah belongs praise and thanks) but when I was around 17 I began to take life, and therefore my life purpose more seriously.

I wasn’t aware of anywhere to study in my area but I would attend the masjid more and started to read a few books and watch talks on Youtube. It was very casual.

I would watch talks on loads of different topics by loads of different speakers. Just hopping from one to the other when I had free time. Truth be told, it was relaxing time, not serious let’s learn my religion time. Verrrry casual.

After about 2 years of doing this I realised that although I had some random facts in my head, I never really felt like I could talk about a topic in Islam without having some doubt that I was wrong. I hadn’t gained what I’d call solid knowledge.

I couldn’t say “I know the fiqh of salah through and through” or “I can explain exactly what the different levels of authenticity of hadith are and their conditions”.

I was quite the expert on marriage though of course lol.

I then moved to the UK for university and started attending classes and seminars. My first was an aqeeda course by Al Kawthar Institute with Ustadh Abu AbdiSalam. It was great! The structure, the evidences, the notes, the examples. I left feeling confident that I actually knew something solid.

I continued to attend classes mostly by Sabeel and Al Salam Institute (Sh Akram Nadwi) and became a big user of BayyinahTV. Each seminar would change my whole worldview! Not because of the facts and evidences taught but because these specific classes taught principles and ways of approaching topics.

This is what I need!” I thought.

I need to know principles and methodology to understand the essence of Islam so I can then apply that to my approach in my daily life!”

There were lots of opportunities to learn but I needed to learn what to say no to. Not just what to say yes to.

Yes was no longer the default. It’s about quality over quantity #RealTalk. Finally, I was able to create a framework for how to gain the most important, iman-changing knowledge in an organised way that I now stick with.

I feel like I know my path, I know where I’m going and what I’m doing w lilah alhamd. Even if a shiny new course comes up or there’s a new topic that everyone is sharing videos on, I say no.

I’m confident of my path and I know the end goal, for me.

The System, Structure and Resources for Gaining Islamic Knowledge.

By the end of this blog you will have:

    • A clear goal of what you want to achieve.
    • Decided on how deep you want to go based on your goals.
    • Understood the importance of learning the essence of Islam
    • A list of the exact resources to study (for free)
    • A way to fit it into your hectic timetable (free download below)

Why gain Islamic knowledge?

The answer to this may or may not be obvious for you but it affects eeeverything that is to come. So let’s give a clear answer.

We’re gaining Islamic knowledge to accomplish goals. These goals will be some of the most important goals you and I ever have in our life:

  • To learn what Allah is pleased with and displeased with so we can rush to what pleases Him and avoid what displeases Him.
  • To learn about Allah so we can be more grateful to Him.
  • To learn about Allah, His book and His sharia to bring us closer to Him and to improve our quality of worship and earn more reward.

Important point: In some parts of the world it has become more and more common to go to circles of knowledge, seminars and Islamic talks. Alhamdulilah!

As with everything popular and convenient it’s important to take 3 minutes to really decide why you are attending. Ask yourself:

  • Am I going just to be with friends? Would I still go if I didn’t like the other people there?
  • Am I going so I can feel good about myself? So I can feel like I’m a good Muslim?
  • Am I going so I can avoid embarrassment when friends find out I don’t have much Islamic knowledge or that I don’t attend any lessons?

THIS IS DEEP!

The above 3 reasons are very different to the first 3 we mentioned. It’s so important to be honest with yourself.

I find that a good measure of sincerity is observing if I still do something when it becomes less convenient or less trendy.

Do you really want to be a scholar? (I don’t)

Maybe I’m wrong but I get the feeling that a lot of young Muslims feel that they need to study advanced topics in Islamic studies.

Studying the extremely advanced topics and going on to be qualified to give rulings etc is definitely a good thing.

It also might not be as much of a need as you might think (you’ll see what I mean in the resources section below).

Some people, like our respected and beloved scholars have dedicated decades to studying this religion. They have memorised books, mastered Arabic and teach it to others. It’s a full time thing for them!

You can quickly realise that we don’t need 1 billion+ Muslims doing that full time. We need to specialise in a wide variety of fields and contribute in different ways.

This guide is mainly for those that are super focused on studying for the 3 main reasons we mentioned above. They’re not looking to study and teach it full time. They simply want to get closer to Allah.

I fit into that category btw.

Super solid foundation >

Ok so you know why you’re studying and you’ve decided at what level you want to aim for.

Now what?

I think most of us are not going to aim to become scholars and mujtahidin. That’s fine. What this means is that we want to aim to have an unbreakable foundation! A foundation that allows us to achieve the 3 reasons we’re seeking knowledge.

  • To learn what Allah is pleased with and displeased with so we can rush to what pleases Him and avoid what displeases Him.
  • To learn about Allah so we can be more grateful to Him.
  • To learn about Allah, His book and His sharia to bring us closer to Him and to improve our quality of worship and earn more reward.

The unbreakable, solid curriculum of knowledge I’m going to suggest to you will give you a lot more than most seminars and more than even the year long courses (ouch). It will allow you the understand the essence of Islam.

What is the essence?

Google search says:

the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character.

and that works for me!

In short, it’s the smallest amount of knowledge that will give you the best, most accurate idea of the complete religion.

You know when these ‘Islamic experts’ come on TV and say stuff like: “Islam is all about XZY”?

They are trying to describe the essence of Islam (and usually failing). Islam is very tough to summarise in one sentence but in 10 ideas? 40 hadith? 15 ayat? From the commentary of scholars?

Sure!

That’s exactly what this curriculum gives you.

So when a new topic or situation comes up you might not know exaactly what Islam says about it or the ruling but you will be able to have a good, general idea. Plus, these really are the things that are relatively short but go SO far in getting us closer to Allah.

The exact topics with full study resources

The topics in this curriculum are:

  1. Tawhid & knowing Allah
  2. Quran
  3. 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi
  4. Knowing the Prophet ASWS

PS. This can easily be a life-long study project. We can go deeeep on all of these topics.

1) Tawhid & knowing Allah

Our teachers and du3at (Islamic speakers) will tell us again and again to stop sinning, to start these little acts of worship. To learn Arabic, memorise Quran, pray the night prayer etc.

WHY would we??

This stuff is hard! Let’s be real. It’s really hard. The only reason we would do such things is because:

  • We want to show gratitude to Allah
  • We want Allah’s reward
  • We want to avoid Allah’s punishment
  • Allah is deserving of our worship

That’s it. If we don’t know Allah, how much He has done for us, what His paradise is, what His hellfire is then why would we worship more and sin less??

That’s why this is number 1!

First make sure you cover the series by Ustadh Alomgir Ali. This will become the backbone for what you believe.

Bonus content:

Bonus:

Some extra in-depth information that is really designed to change how you think about Allah can be found at iPersonalEnrichment. This is especially for those that deep down hold grudges against Allah or feel like He doesn’t want the best for them. Check it out here.

2) Quran

So that’s knowing Allah, helping us to increase our motivation to obey Him and avoid disobeying Him, great!

But where do we learn about Him from? The Quran! Allah teaches us about Himself and His punishment and reward deeply in the Quran this is the exact same place we will connect to Him even further.

It is Allah speaking to us!

In terms of my development, this is where I’ve found the most direct increase in iman and connected-ness to Allah. Through the Quran, more specifically: BayyinahTV.

Nouman Ali Khan is probably the best communicator I know when it comes to Islamic speakers. He’s absolutely smashed it, he must have studied public speaking or something in depth. He knows how to get a message across and his deep knowledge of Arabic doesn’t hurt either 😛

His membership website with hundreds of hours of content, BayyinahTV can be an overwhelming place but I’ve done the work of finding out what you want to focus on right now and what you want to ignore for the moment.

Here it is…

BayyinahTV -> Featured -> Quran for Young Adults.

Screenshot 2015-12-14 14.54.48Screenshot 2015-12-14 14.57.52
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This series blew my mind and is probably the most important resource on this post!

We’ll get to how exactly to watch all the content later in this post but for now all you need to know is that it truly is the ultimate series for anyone wanting to: connect to Allah, increase their knowledge of Allah and our beliefs and develop certainty in their iman.

In Quran for Young Adults you will learn:

  1. The 4 minimum characteristics of Muslims
  2. What Allah defines as ‘good’
  3. The exact wisdom behind the advice of Luqman
  4. Why it’s natural for all humans to believe in their Creator
  5. Why we believe in Allah
  6. What exactly we believe about Him
  7. Why we believe in the Quran
  8. Why we believe in the Prophet Muhammed ASWS
  9. What the few, important deeds are that Allah expects
  10. Much, much more… (I don’t just say that. It’s a lot of material!)

All of this is explained directly from the words of Allah Himself! Which is what I love the most. Each lesson comes directly from an ayah/ayat.

3) The 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi

These hadith were selected by Imam Nawawi to define the essence of Islam for people like us trying to build a foundation.

By understanding exactly what the Prophet ASWS said and meant in these few, important hadith, we can understand the essence of Islam as we talked about previously.

Sh Navaid Aziz explains them in such an eloquent and balanced manner giving great insight.

Remember this can be a life’s study so once we’ve finished this series we can move onto reading these books to get further knowledge.

  • Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi by Jamal Al-Din Zarabozo. This is said to be the best explanation in the English language and I will definitely be checking it out. Amazon link.
  • The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom by Ibn Rajab (May Allah have mercy on him). By the name you can tell how important these hadith are! An explanation by a classical scholar. More info and purchase.

4) Knowing the Prophet (ASWS)

We’ve got a good idea about the Prophet ASWS from the Quran and the 40 hadith of Nawawi but we’d do well to read/listen to the seera at least once or twice.

He is our role model after all! (ASWS).

“But he was a Prophet and I’m not!”

Well you should listen to the acts of the companions closely then 😉

Stories are an excellent way of learning and gaining insight into the thought processes and mannerisms of someone. That is what the seera does.

Here are my recommended resources for learning the seera. Download the audios and listen to them while travelling:

Abdul Nasir Jangda is, in my opinion one of the best communicators I’ve heard. No surprise that he is Nouman Ali Khan’s  colleague and teacher.

Yasir Qadhi has a complete and in-depth series on the life of the Prophet ASWS.

 

How exactly to go about learning all of this?

You’ve probably seen all this content listed and thought..

“I’m so busy how can I cover all this!?”

To that I’d respond:

  1. It’s a life journey, be patient
  2. I’ve got a plan for you
  3. Shwiya bshwiya (bit by bit in Arabic)

Just download the free PDF below to get:

  • An easy to find and click list of ALL the resources
  • A method to fit it into your busy timetable
  • The tools I use to make learning quicker and easier

I didn’t realise I had so much to say and explain on this topic! Alhamdulilah! Please DO share this with others as I’m sure maany many will benefit even if you may not at the moment.

PS. Download your PDF

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About the Author

Founder of Seera Masters, a blog that helps Muslims design their mindset and lifestyle to reach their goals. Massively passionate about Quran, travelling, technology and life-long learning!