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    How Does the Muslim Benefit From the Islamic Library by Shaykh Ahmad as-Subay'ee

    How Does the Muslim Benefit From the Islamic Library

    Summarization of Audio Lesson Given By
    Sheikh Ahmed As-Subay’ee May Allaah preserve him
    Translated by Adam Lazarus

    There have been hundreds of thousands of books written about many different topics of Islamic knowledge, within the world of Islamic books. Everyone loves to increase their knowledge, therefore it is necessary that we study this issue so we may decide which books to select, collect, and read based upon Al-Baseerah (clear insight which differentiates between Truth and falsehood). As Allah described His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم):
    {Say: This is my path, I call to Allah upon Al-Baseerah (clear insight)} – Surah Yusuf:108.

    What was the viewpoint of the Salaf (earlier generations from the People of Sunnah) in regards to Knowledge in the Sharee’ah and the writing of books?

    1. The Salaf defined Knowledge of the Sharee’ah to be: the Revelation, meaning the texts of the Quraan and Sunnah, and that which helps to understand the Revelation, from the narrations of the Sahaabah and Taabi’een.

    2. The Salaf spoke and wrote very little, and only when it was needed; they looked into the benefit of what should and what should not be written. The affairs were complete during the early virtuous generations, as the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:
    ((The best of the people are my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them)).

    The people of innovation did not leave the Muslims to be upon the Truth, due to what was in their chests from debating, disease, and lack of submission. They began writing and translating books of rhetoric, Greek logic, and the philosophy of Aristotle. They took these and mixed them with Islamic sciences; so they authored dictionaries, books distorting Allah’s attributes, and even fiqh books filled with only opinions unsupported by texts, blind following and taking the sayings of the Imaams as if they were Quraan and Sunnah.
    What were the lies that the people of innovation spread as doubts to justify why they needed to begin writing about innovated topics in so many books?

    1. They claimed that the Salaf were too busy with acts of worship and fighting in battles to focus their attention on seeking knowledge and deriving benefit from it.

    2. They claimed that many new matters had occurred in their later time which the Salaf had not experienced and spoken about.

    What are the answers to those lies which the people of innovation spread as doubts as to why they needed to start writing many books?

    1. The first doubt is a deceptive lie in that they described the Salaf in a way which appears praiseworthy, however their claim necessitates that the Salaf are described with ignorance and without understanding. What is obligatory is that we describe the Salaf with knowledge, understanding, insight, and defense of the Knowledge of the Sharee’ah.

    2. In regards to the second doubt: we have been ordered by Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to refer back to the Quraan, Sunnah, and narrations of the Righteous Salaf. So after the death of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and the death of the Salaf, there is no new knowledge in the Sharee’ah which will come about. Allah said what means: {This day I have completed for you your religion}. So the Sharee’ah is not in need of anything new.

    3. It was known amongst the Salaf that a great amount of Knowledge is not recognized by a great amount of books. Rather, great Knowledge is recognized by achieving the Truth, without being distracted by too many sources to reach it.

    What were the specific reasons which caused the Salaf to begin writing certain types of books in accordance with the Sharee’ah (to preserve the Knowledge)?

    1. The Sahabah were fluent in pure Arabic language, so they easily understood the texts of the Quraan and Sunnah. However, as time passed and the Muslims began mixing with non-Arab people, the Arabic language became weaker. So due to this reason, specific books began to be written in Arabic grammar and likewise in Usoolul-Fiqh (the foundational principles used to understand the correct intent of the texts in regards to rulings).

    2. The Sahabah learned the Sunnah from the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) directly, with no intermediary. However, as time passed, the number of narrators increased between the Sahabah and the scholars of hadeeth; likewise the methods of conveying the hadeeth increased. So due to these reasons, the scholars began to write books about the dispraise and praise of narrators and the sciences of hadeeth.

    What are some of the new errors people make in regards to how they use the Islamic library?

    1. Some people collect and read the newer books which have been written, without going back to refer to the original older books of knowledge. Ibnul-Uthaimeen said after being asked about Sayed Qutb: “I did not read his books. I do not prefer to read the books of later authors, because you read and read and you do not find in them except a little benefit; as for the books of the People of Knowledge, then you read and you benefit.”

    2. Or to the other extreme, some people go back to only the older books, while they reject the newer books written by the People of Knowledge. So these people destroy Knowledge due to not understanding the Sunnah in the way that the People of Knowledge understood it.

    What are the points of advice for combining the way of the Salaf with benefiting from the Islamic Library?

    1. Reminder of the statement of Ibn Sireen: “Verily this knowledge is religion, so look to whom you take your religion from.” Likewise, Muhammad Ammaan Al-Jaami said: “The teacher is more important than the book.” So we must study the books with the trustworthy scholars to the best of our abilities.

    2. Focus care and attention on those books which the scholars of the Sunnah have advised with.

    3. Abandon the abnormal and strange books. Likewise abandon unnecessarily referring back to too many books. Do not put your own viewpoints before the views of the People of Knowledge.

    4. Take only from the books that which there is a specific reason and need for.

    5. Protect ourselves from the newly invented types of knowledge introduced into the Islamic Library, especially those which are innovated and overly complicated. Verily from what the people of innovation have introduced is going too deep in the fields of language and Usoolul-Fiqh, because they have abandoned the main goal of benefiting from the Revelation.

    6. Continually remember the main principle to hold firmly to the Revelation and striving to actualize obedience and following the Sharee’ah, not merely claiming it openly.

    7. Learn the Truth from multiple sources, from various scholars of the Revelation. As Ayyoob As-Sakhtiyaani said: “You will not know the mistake of your teacher, until you sit with other than him.”
    Some other issues related to the Islamic Library and seeking Knowledge:

    • We do not go to extremes and rush to speak badly in a way which does not aid the Sharee’ah, as some foolish people do regarding books such as Fathul-Baaree by Ibn Hajr, like Al-Haddad who even called Ibn Hajr an innovator. Yet we see how Imaam Muqbil called Fathul-Baaree “a treasure trove of knowledge”. So we must recognize the great difference between these two descriptions and benefit from these books in a noble way. We take the Truth contained in them, and we abandon any errors and falsehood, upon clear insight with the guidance of the People of Knowledge.

    • Youth should never rush into reading a newly authored book which the People of Knowledge may not yet have read in a contemplative manner or studied it. Or even if they had read it, they may not yet have been able to focus on refuting the errors contained in it, due to their consideration for the benefits and harms which could result.

    • If it is seen that so-and-so has been praised as being called Sunni, or a scholar, or a person of virtue, this does not necessitate that the person be accepted completely and aided. Verily this praise could have resulted from some type of trickery.

    • It is upon the youth and especially the students of Knowledge to be aiders of the scholars, and not test them, or question them confrontationally; because they may not have spoken out regarding an issue due to a greater benefit they had seen. So it is upon the young student who has clear insight to know his limited responsibility, and if he recognizes something doubtful which he should beware of, he acts upon that while being patient with the scholars.

    • In our times, the reasons for writing books have changed completely from what the reasons were with the Salaf. Many people now put out books with the goal of gaining fame or to be recognized as a student of knowledge. For example, we must take heed that the process of checking a manuscript and preparing it as a published book is nothing more than work which is done, and has nothing to do with actually being a student of Knowledge.
    It is upon the Student of Knowledge to recognize his place in this Dawah, and that place is to have Taqwaa of Allah in regards to His blessed Dawah. We ask Allah to bless us and provide us with beneficial knowledge, a submissive heart, and righteous actions. Likewise, we ask Allah to aid the Dawah to the Sunnah and that all innovation be defeated in all its varying schools of thought and forms in this time.

    To listen to the original audio go to: How Does the Muslim Benefit From the Islamic Library
    Abu Maryam Taariq ibn 'Ali


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