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5 Tips to Help You on the Path to Seeking Islamic Knowledge

by in Lifestyle on 21st January, 2022

“Asma, you are a reel of excuses!” exclaimed a teacher of mine when I failed, yet again, to hand in an assignment. Although I remember this less-than-charming description of myself clearly, I can’t quite recall why I was so tardy. Too busy having fun? Or maybe I thought chattering away on the phone with a friend I had already spent the day with was a better use of time. Whatever it was, I most certainly did not have the responsibilities I do now. Adulthood inevitably brings a whole host of obligations and duties that are far more demanding than essays: making a living, marriage, children and chores. Who would even think of studying again once “real life” begins? Well, me. It was a decision I made by enrolling onto a degree in Islamic Studies when my second child was only 6 months old. And in an amusing twist of fate, as I sat to consider the challenges I may face, I found some people around me happily listing reasons (read: excuses!) why I really ought to reconsider!

“But what about your kids? What about the cooking? How will you find time?” are the common questions I had thrown my way and this really made me wonder: had I chosen to study something that would help me earn a tidy sum, would the reaction have been the same? We all know and are reminded of the virtues of knowledge, but find ourselves too busy or distracted to actively pursue it. However, in the Qur’an we are taught a dua to ask for good in this life and the next and many early scholars, such as Hasan al Basri (RA), described the good of this life as knowledge. With it, you know what steps to take to save yourself from falling into error and you are better equipped to obey the commandment from Allah to save your family. The idea of Islamic knowledge as a vital and precious resource was enough to help me ignore the naysayers and kick start my path of learning.

And I was no anomaly! When I moved to Saudi Arabia, I was fortunate enough to find myself surrounded by a number of families with either one or both parents studying. I was able to experience and witness the possibility of juggling student life whilst raising a family. I asked Umm Fatima, a recent graduate of Umm al Qura University in Makkah, about her biggest obstacles as a mother with young kids studying alongside her husband.

“Studies require time and patience. Sometimes we had to choose and give a break either to studies or the house, but ultimately, my husband and I had the same vision. We chose Allah’s path and He took care of each and every affair of ours. The workload definitely kept me on my toes, but engaging with scholars and pondering on what I had learnt daily revived my emaan and pushed me to be a better person.”

Islam encourages us to aspire to excellence and self-development appears to be all the rage as we look for simple experiences that optimise our lives. But there is no better way to personal growth; improving your mindset; your heart, your character, your priorities; how you view and react to the world and whatever it throws at you; and more importantly, success in the hereafter, than studying your deen. And by default, you become a beautiful and worthy asset to not only your family, but also the ummah through your efforts. After all, the best way to change society is to begin with you.

“…Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Qur’an 13:11)

So, whether you choose to take on a formal intensive course of study on campus or online, or even if you make a plan to commit to a class at your local masjid, here is a little advice to ensure a successful and rewarding journey.

Top Tips For Studying the Deen

  1. Set your intention and make plenty of dua

This may sound so cliché, but it’s super important! An aspect of knowledge is gaining it for the right intention and we are warned against seeking it for other than Allah’s pleasure – so keep this in mind and renew your intention regularly. The objective is not to become a scholar, but a genuine want of knowledge itself. Try listing your motives and aims as a Muslimah. For example, you want to know about Allah, about His commands, to get guidance and to teach your children. This is going to bring you energy and motivation. Plentiful dua, sincerity and perseverance will see you a long way, inshallah.

  1. Set up a support system

Tell your family and friends about your goals. Even if you only have your husband around, make sure he’s on board. Umm Khadijah, from Umm al Qura, enlisted hers as a “study buddy” and emphaised that “it is extremely important to have your spouse’s complete support. If it’s not there, you will not succeed with flying colours. When things become overwhelming, it’s good to know someone has your back.” Hopefully, you’ll also meet new people on your course and there is no better friend than the one who is in the same boat.

  1. Get organised

Upping your organisation game means you’ll be closer to getting the balance between your studies and family right. Set a daily target and find the blocks of time that are most conducive to your learning – especially if you’re working from home. This could be early morning or when kids have gone to bed/having a nap. With older children, maybe you can do some “homework” together! Either way, you do not have to be studying all day. And remember, it’s better to be busy with something beneficial than wasting time.

  1. Stay inspired

We all need drive and the wonderful thing about having children is finding a new determination and reason to be productive. We often view them as obstacles to achieving more in life, but this is far from the truth! They are your biggest impetus to better yourself – YOU are their first school and inspiration just as much as they are yours. By watching you accomplish your goals, they have the perfect example of success. 

  1. Teach!

The first one to benefit from Islamic knowledge should be you. Implement what you learn and then do your best to teach others. Once you have completed a module or segment of your course, relate that information to someone else; this really helps with your own understanding! You could do this informally as a discussion between friends, write articles based on what you have learnt, or find the confidence to start a local halaqah.

Seeking knowledge requires effort and striving and it will only come through commitment and dedication to learning. It is a true gift and something so valuable does not fall into our laps, rather it comes from Allah who wants us to make the endeavour. By fulfilling a spiritual need, you become a source of comfort for those around you. So, in the words of Muhammad al Shareef, give your excuses a black eye and race to become an Islamic parent-student.

Asma Ali

Asma Ali

Asma Ali is an adequately caffeinated mum and writer who loves to learn. As an English graduate, she went on to complete her second degree (BA Islamic Studies with KIU) whilst homeschooling her children. She hopes to inspire others on their own learning journeys, and you can follow her bookish escapades on Instagram: @asma_scribendi and Facebook: Scribendeen