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Stats: 17,455 members, 69,257 Topics, 15,447 Comments. Date: Jun 17 2019, 8:04 am

Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.

I would like to know, having
reviewed the fatwa on your website,
that if seeking knowledge is, for
certain matters, a communal
obligation then how can we balance
this between if a person has
capabilities to learn his religion so
he does not follow a madhab and
between one, who, for example,
may have time on his hands - or
could, if he wanted, work lesser
hours per week so he has more free
time because his circumstances
mean he is well off and he doesn't
have any financial obligations that
require much income - but does not
utilise this time to learn his religion
when he has the other capabilities
to do so, such as the books,
cassettes, a quiet study room, a
good memory, good analytical skills
and his abilities mean he has great
potential to become well-versed in
the Qur'ān and the Sunnah? Is this
type of a person sinning because he
is working extra hours when he
does not need to do and that this
time could be utilised better by
engaging in learning his religion
etc? Could this person still say that
seeking knowledge is a communal


Praise be to Allah.
Some Islamic knowledge is an
individual obligation (fard ‘ayn), and
some of it is a communal obligation
(fard kifaayah), and some of it is
nafl (supererogatory).
With regard to beneficial worldly
knowledge, it is a communal
obligation or is permissible.
It says in Kashshaaf al-
Qinaa‘ (1/411): The best of
voluntary deeds is jihad. Ahmad
said: I do not know of anything
after the obligatory duties that is
better than jihad…
Then comes knowledge, learning
and teaching it, in the fields of
hadith, fiqh and other fields, such
as tafseer and usool, because of the
hadith: “The superiority of the
scholar over the worshipper is like
my superiority over the least of
you…” And Abu’d-Dardaa’ said: The
scholar and the learner are equal in
reward, and the rest of people are
riffraff in whom there is nothing
Muhanna narrated that Imam
Ahmad said: Seeking knowledge is
the best of deeds for the one whose
intention is sound. It was said: How
can one have the right intention?
He said: He should intend to be
humble (after acquiring knowledge)
and to eliminate ignorance thereby.
Ibn Haani’ asked him: Should he
seek hadith as much as he thinks
he has benefited thereby (and then
stop at that point)? He said: Nothing
is as good as seeking knowledge.
Ibn Mansoor narrated that spending
part of the night in discussing
issues of knowledge was dearer to
Ahmad than spending some part of
it in prayer, and that is discussing
the type of knowledge that benefits
people in their religious affairs. I
said: (Do you mean) prayer, fasting,
Hajj, divorce and so on? He said:
Ahmad said: Everyone should seek
of knowledge as much as he needs
to carry out his religious duties. It
was said to him: Do you mean that
all types of shar‘i knowledge are
required to help a person adhere to
the teachings of his religion? He
said: Whatever is required of him as
an individual, he must seek the
knowledge thereof.
It was said: Such as what? He said:
Such as that which he cannot afford
to be ignorant of, namely his
prayer, his fasting and so on.
What Ahmad meant was the
religious duties that are obligatory
upon every individual; if that is not
the case, then (knowledge of those
matters) is a communal obligation.
This was mentioned by our
companions. So if any group of
people acquire knowledge which it is
not an obligation for every
individual to acquire, then they
have fulfilled a communal
obligation, and whoever acquires
this (communal) knowledge, then it
is something extra in his case (and
that is a good thing).
In Aadaab ‘Uyoon al-Masaa’il it
says: Knowledge is the best of
deeds, and the closest of the
scholars to Allah are those who fear
Him the most. End quote.
In al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah (13/6)
it says: Acquiring knowledge may be
subject to the following rulings (as
to whether it is obligatory):
Learning may be an individual
obligation (fard ‘ayn); this
refers to learning that which a
Muslim cannot do without
knowing in order to carry out
his religious duties, and to
make his deeds sincerely for
Allah alone, may He be exalted,
and how to interact with other
people. It is enjoined upon
every accountable person, male
or female – after learning what
is needed in order to have
proper understanding of the
tenets of faith, which form the
foundation of the religion – to
learn about that which will
help him to do acts of worship
and to interact with others in
the correct manner; that
includes wudoo’, ghusl, prayer,
fasting, rulings on Zakaah and
Hajj, for those for whom these
things are obligatory, and
having a sincere intention for
the sake of Allah when doing
acts of worship.
It is obligatory to learn the rulings
on buying and selling for
businessmen, so that they can avoid
dubious transactions and
transactions involving improper
elements in all their dealings. The
same applies to people in all
professions, and everyone who is
involved in a thing must learn the
rulings connected to it, so that he
can avoid falling into haraam when
engaging in his profession.
However, learning may be a
communal obligation (fard
kifaayah); this applies to
learning any branch of
knowledge that is essential for
people’s well-being in worldly
terms, such as medicine,
mathematics, grammar,
language, ‘ilm al-kalaam,
modes of recitation, the
science of hadith, and so on.
Some types of knowledge are
encouraged, such as extensive
study and research in fiqh, and
finding out about subtle fiqhi
issues; the same applies to
other branches of shar‘i
Some types of knowledge may
be haraam, such as learning
about charlatanry, geomancy,
witchcraft, soothsaying and
fortune telling.
Some types of knowledge may
be makrooh (disliked), which
includes verses of poetry which
contain descriptions of specific
Some types of knowledge may
be permissible, which includes
verses of poetry in which there
is nothing objectionable such
as ridiculing a Muslim or
mentioning faults of Muslims
and so on. End quote.
That which comes under the
heading of a communal obligation or
supererogatory knowledge does not
become an individual obligation for
someone just because he has some
free time or has the ability to
become a scholar.
But such a person may be missing
out on much goodness if he decides
not to seek knowledge or limits
himself to learning only that which
it is obligatory for him to learn.
That is because seeking knowledge
is one of the noblest of deeds, and
the one who does that is one of the
heirs of the Prophets, because he is
showing people the way to Allah and
teaching people about His religion.
With regard to the honour of
knowledge, it is sufficient to note
that the Prophet (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“Whoever travels a road seeking
knowledge thereby, Allah will cause
him to travel one of the roads of
Paradise. The angels lower their
wings in approval of the seeker of
knowledge. All those who are in the
heavens and on earth, even the fish
in the water, pray for forgiveness
for the scholar. The superiority of
the scholar over the worshipper is
like the superiority of the moon
over all other heavenly bodies. The
scholars are the heirs of the
Prophets. The Prophets did not leave
behind dinars or dirhams, rather
they left behind a heritage of
knowledge, and the one who
acquires it acquires an abundant
portion.” Narrated by at-Tirmidhi
(2682), Abu Daawood (3641) and Ibn
Maajah (223); the hadith was
classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in
Saheeh at-Tirmidhi .
There is nothing wrong with a
person working additional hours,
without needing to, if that will lead
to him not acquiring further
knowledge, so long as he has
already learned what he needs to

Whoever wants to gain knowledge
of fiqh has to study one of the
madhhabs. This is the way of people
of knowledge both in the past and
the present. It does not mean that
he should adhere fanatically to that
madhhab and never accept any view
from outside that madhhab.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah
have mercy on him) said:
Undoubtedly the individual should
focus on a particular madhhab,
studying it and its basic principles
and guidelines. But this does not
mean that he should adhere
completely to the view of the imam
of that madhhab as one should
adhere to the words of the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be
upon him); rather his study of fiqh
should be based on that, but he
should also be willing to accept from
other madhhabs that which is based
on sound evidence, as was the way
of leading scholars who followed
madhhabs, such as Shaykh al-Islam
Ibn Taymiyah, an-Nawawi, and
others, so that his knowledge will be
based on a sound foundation.
End quote from Majmoo‘ Fataawa
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (26/176-177).
[Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen] (may Allah
have mercy on him) was asked: We
see some students beginning their
study of fiqh with comparative fiqh;
is this way correct? Or does the
study of fiqh require a gradual
approach? Please explain that to us.
He replied:
What does comparative fiqh mean?
It means giving different scholarly
views on any fiqhi issue. No, this is
The one who starts his study of fiqh
by reading books that show
different views will undoubtedly
become lost and confused.
It is better to focus on a particular
madhhab and master its books.
Once a student has a solid grasp of
the fiqh of that madhhab, then he
may look at books of comparative
fiqh, and when he becomes well
versed, he may be able to determine
which view is more correct.
As for starting with differences of
opinion when he is still a beginner,
this is like someone who throws
himself into the sea when he does
not know how to swim.
End quote from Duroos li’sh-Shaykh
al-‘Uthaymeen (11/29).
And Allah knows best.


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