Knowledge is not from books alone

It was reported in ĥadiitħs[1] by Aĥmad[2], At-Tirmidħiyyy[3], Ad-Daarimiyy[4] and Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy[5] that the Prophet r was asked, after telling them that knowledge of the religion will disappear in the future, “O Prophet of Aļļaah, how can knowledge disappear when we have copies of the Qur’aan and we have learned what they contain, and we have taught our children and our wives and our servants?” He raised his head in anger and said, “These Jews and Christians have with them their scriptures, yet they did not learn from them what their prophets brought them.”[6] That is, books alone are not enough; there must also be scholars that transfer the knowledge from one generation to the next, and can explain what is found in books.

[1]     A ĥadiitħ is a statements about what the Prophet said, did or did not do in different circumstances.

[2]     Aĥmad ibn Muĥammad ibn Ĥanbal Asħ-Sħaybaaniyy Al-Waa’iliyy (164 h. – 241 h.) is the Imam of the fourth school of fiqh: the Ĥanbaliyy school of Islamic Jurisprudence. His father was a governor in Sarkħas, but Imaam Aĥmad grew up in Bagħdaad. He devoted his life to teaching and learning, and is said to have memorized some 1 million ĥadiitħs. He was imprisoned and beaten from some time by a ruler who was influenced by a deviant sect. Az-Zirikliyy, Al-‘Aˆlaam (2002), 1/203.

[3]     Muĥammad ibn ˆIisaa ibn Sawrah ibn Muusaa ibn Ađ-Đaĥĥaak As-Sulamiyy Al-Buugħiyy At-Tirmidħiyy, Abuu ˆIisaa (209-279 AH/ 824-892 AD).  He was a great scholar of ĥadiitħ and is the author of one of the six most reliable ĥadiitħ collections. He became blind towards the end of his life. Ibid., 6/322.

[4]     ˆAbduļļaah ibn ˆAbdurRaĥmaan ibn Al-Fađl ibn Bahraam At-Tamiimiyy Ad-Daarimiyy As-Samarqandiyy (181-255 AH/797-869 AD.) He was a great scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) and ĥadiitħ. He was one of the teachers of Muslim, the author of the ĥadiitħ collection “Şaĥiiĥ Muslim.” Ibid., 4/95-96.

[5]     Aĥmad ibn Muĥammad ibn Salaamah Al-‘Azdiyy Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy, Abuu Jaˆfar (239-321 AH/ 853-933 AD). The great jurisprudent and ĥadiitħ scholar. He was born in Şaˆiid in Egypt, and was the nephew of Al-Muzaniyy, a famous student of Asħ-Sħaafiˆiyy. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy first studied jurisprudence in the Sħaafiˆiyy school, but later became the head of the Ĥanafiyy school in Egypt at his time. Among his famous books is his manifesto of the creed of Sunni Islaam, known as the creed of Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy. Ibid., 1/206.

[6] ˆAliy Al-Qaariy, Mirqaatu-l-Mafaatiiĥ (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 2001), 1/484.

11 Responses to Knowledge is not from books alone

  1. Abdullah says:

    Is it correct to say that Allah is attributed with smelling like hearing and seeing?
    Thank you..

  2. abraarfoundation says:

    Esselam Aleykum, welcome back brother Sheik. Find the pleasure reading your work. Jazakallah..

  3. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    Ma sha Allah. Welcome back dear shaykh and Ramadan Kareem.

    We are stuck in times of extreme fitnah these days. On the one hand are the foolish wahabis but on the other hand are the heretics saying they are Ash’aris, and they are worse than wahabis, because they fool people in the name of Ahlus Sunnah.

    What is a good strategy to stay safe from the heretics who think they are Ash’aris and claim that they are giving the elaborations and explanations of the content of books, but in fact they are teaching the exact opposite of Islam. When they are critically analysed, their jahil students literally say that such shuyukh are beyond being critically analysed, and only they understand what are the hidden meanings of the things written in books, or are aware of the methodology of the Shari’ah.

    For example, one person claiming to be an Ash’ari shaykh, says that the maqasid due to which the ‘ulama of the past forbade greeting christians for christmas, are no longer present, and hence now we are permitted to greet them for christmas. Since he acknowledges that ‘ulema of the past did forbid such an act, now effectively there is no use to show him references from scholars of the past. He won’t accept books, neither will he accept the hikmah of truthful scholars.

  4. anonymous says:

    Assalam’aleykum Shaykh,

    Knowledge is not from book but without books personnaly I would be lost:

    I ve taken courses at sunnipath in Hanafi Fiqh and there is a lot of mistakes in their translation of Quduri as welll as in their audio course on it.

    I ve listned to Azhari courses and same thing: a lot of mistakes, especially in their kalam courses.

    I ve asked a lot of questions on spirtiuality to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and he is unable to be straightforward and clear as the writing of Ibn Atta illah,Ibn Ajiba,Ar Rundi or even Al Ghazali.

    I have tried to understand your articles at sunnianswers but you didn’t hesitate to completly change what As Sanussi deems true in his assanussiya on the issue of miracles.Without his commentary I would be lost.Same thing on the issue of time.Without the books of Razi on this issue I would still be lost because of your aticles on this issue.

    Then there is scholars like shaykh sai’d fudah who don’t believe in the jahwar and pretends that kalam must evolve, that somewhat our proofs are not enough anymore.Same thing with faraz rabbani.If they can’t understand the classical proofs on kalamWhy don’t they just accept that they don’t understand fully the classical proofs rather than saying that “we need scholars who understand quantum mechanics”?Don’t they know that all the science of today is just a mental construction somehow “works” in some cases but in no way give us what is reality? Kalam give us what is reality.They should just shut up.

    Then there is nuh keller unable to correct his mistake on the issue of Allah’s lying.

    Mufti Abu Adam who adopts like other deobandi scholars the wahabi vision of bid’a rather than the ahl sunna scholars.

    Then there is the mistakes that we find in books from great scholars like bijuri who didn’t understand,or lied, in his sharh of al jahwara what the maturidi means in the issue of qubh and husn.
    The difirent incorrect things that we find in the different fiqh books of every madhab and yes, without a teacher, there is no way to know them.

    After these difficult experiencies I came to the obvious conclusion that yes knwoledge is not from books,there is mistakes or weak opinion in every books, but also that if someone thinks that he can overlook reading books and just rely on the affirmations of his teachers he is going to face big issues and big crisis if he is really trying to reach real understanding and not repeating things like a parrot.


    • wa3alaykumussalaam,

      Could you please clarify what you mean by “you didn’t hesitate to completly change what As Sanussi deems true in his assanussiya on the issue of miracles.” What exactly are you referring to?

      You also said, “Same thing on the issue of time. Without the books of Razi on this issue I would still be lost because of your aticles on this issue.” Certainly, it is not surprising that someone might find the topic of time confusing. It is a very abstract and difficult topic. However, you seem to mean that I actually MADE you lost, and are blaming me for it. I would like to fix that so could you please explain what made you lost exactly? I would truly value the input of someone that is able to read and understand Ar-Raaziyy by himself. However, your comments are too general for me to act on.

      • anonymous says:

        I am not blaming you for anything.
        I don’t want you to act on my comments , I am from the mob and you are a scholar.
        I am just saying that, you are right, books are not enough: this is true.
        But, in our time, teachers also are not enough.

        I,myself, am not a teacher to explain anything on anything about time or miracles or anything else .
        As for you, you have been authorized to teach these things so I can’t blame you for that, nor any other scholars I have named.

        As for my critics against you they don’t mean nothing for you.You would not have wrtitten such things if you believed they were wrong and if it wasn’t part of your scholarly education.
        There is no value for the critics of someone from the mob.

        I am just advising people from the 21st century to:

        1.take the habit to verify that what they are taught oraly is in conformity with classical books and vice versa.

        2.To study the same science under several different authorized and reliable teachers, not just one.

        Why? In order to not be disturbed and jailed by the mistakes of one teacher.

        If these are bad counsels just tell me.
        Anyway as Al Ghazali says: the teacher’s error is better for the student is better that than the student being correct.This is something I accept in anything except in creed as we should get out from taqlid.
        It is obvious that scholars like you,sunnipath,or other “public” figures would have never been allowed to teach on such a scale two hundreds years ago.But times have changed and the lack of reliable scholars today requires religiously the like of you to teach publicly.So thank you for that.

        Personnaly I don’t act on any point except if this point is taught by living scholars and is find in classical books.
        This goes for Razi and the issue of time.I didn’t read Razi by myself.
        I don’t act on classical books alone.I don’t act on living scholars alone.I would love to but when you see Mufti Ali Jumu’a authorizing some type of banking interests,Mufti Taqi Uthmani classifiying people who make correct tawasul as wrongdoers, Shaykh Al Buti classifying the Ash’ari scholars as Jabri on the issue of human will, Hamza Yusuf advertising someone like bin bayah a follower of ibn taymyah on many issues and teaching them like not to have to repeat missed prayers when there is a lot how can you trust blindly anybody?

        As you ve said in your hanafi blog:

        The ancient Muslims used to ride a camel for months to cross the desert to get a reply on a certain case, or to acquire one chapter of knowledge from trustworthy and knowledgeable teacherS.(with an ‘s’)

        I won’t give you the name of the teachers who allowed me to see clearly through the lack of clarity of your articles and subsequent answers on time and miracle because yourself, even after multiple requests, never allowed me to know where should I go to learn correctly my religion.So I am following you on this as you would never do that if it was not correct in Islam.I am just reliying on you on this, a living scholar ,as I have never seen such a thing in classical books.Oh sorry yes! In al iqtisad by Ghazali when people are stupid or stubborn this the way to do: ignoring them.One more reason for you to not act on my comments: you have deemed me stupid enough in the past to forbid me to know where I can learn my religion so don’t bother with anything I ve got to say.

        this is my last comment..

      • I just wanted to know how I supposedly differed from As-Sanuusiyy on miracles and Ar-Raaziyy on time.

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