By Abdulwahid Stephenson
Linguistically, Fiqh means deep understanding. As a subject it is commonly translated as Islamic Jurisprudence and it refers to the practical application of the Quran and the Sunnah. There are four well known Madhahib, Schools of Fiqh, among the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah; Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali. Here are 7 pieces of advice for the student of Fiqh;
- Learn Etiquettes of Knowledge
Muslim scholars have always emphasized the manners of seeking knowledge before actually acquiring the knowledge. Imam Malik (Allah be pleased with him) said: “My mother would dress me up in the clothes of the scholars while I was a young boy and she would tell me, ‘Go to the Masjid and seek knowledge from Imam ar-Rabiah (Allah be pleased with him) study his manners before you take from his knowledge.’”
- Start with One School of Fiqh.
It is recommended for the student of knowledge who is beginning his quest of knowledge to start with one madhab first as it is the most effective and quickest way to learn Fiqh.
- Studying a Madhab is NOT taqleed of the Opinion of Scholars
The layperson who is unable to acquire knowledge of the Shar’iah rulings by himself does taqleed of one of the scholars who he considers to be a person of knowledge and piety. This is following Allah’s command: “Ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.”
- Study under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Knowledge is a profession and every profession has its experts, therefore it is necessary to have a teacher in order to learn. Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd considers this as one of the most important etiquettes of the talib, student, saying: “Whoever enters knowledge alone [without a shaykh], will emerge alone [without knowledge]”.
- Start with basic texts.
It is recommended to begin with concise primer texts and gradually move towards the more advanced books. For each Madhab, various texts can be found for the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
- Learn step-by-step.
In terms of studying any discipline so as to gain a degree of proficiency, two things must be born in mind: the need for a teacher and the need to learn step-by-step. It is stated: ‘Whoever acquires knowledge all at once, shall lose it all at once.’
- Do not be biased towards any Madhab or Scholar
We should never forget that the Fiqh school we study is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself. The objective of studying Fiqh is to have a sound understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah.