The foundations of the Deen for every Muslim who hopes to meet Allāh in a state of goodness and live an eternity in Jannah, consists of two matters:
- Aqīdah: correct belief regarding Allāh, the 6 pillars of Imān and other connected matters.
- Fiqh: A correct understanding of Ḥalāl and Ḥarām, the rulings of Islām and how to worship Allāh.
The final Āyah of Sūrah al-Kahf, recommended to be recited every Friday, concludes with this point:
فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا۟ لِقَآءَ رَبِّهِۦ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَـٰلِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِۦٓ أَحَدًۢا
So whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let them do good deeds and associate none in the worship of their Lord [18:110]
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of Tawḥīd and sincerity. You can read it here. This blog is for beginner students of knowledge who want to start studying Fiqh – the rulings of halal and haram – and need some direction. Here are five tips to get going.
1. Start with a small text book covering the common rulings of ‘Ibādāt (worship).
The first action we will be asked about on the Day of Judgement is your Ṣalāh (Prayer), so it is important to get it right. This includes actions within Ṣalāh, as well as actions and rulings which are a pre-requisite of Ṣalāh such as purification, knowing impurities, times of Ṣalāh etc…
Furthermore, if Allāh has blessed you with wealth to the degree that you have a surplus, then you have to know all about the fiqh of zakāt, sharing the blessings of Allāh with those less fortunate. Likewise, fasting Ramadān and performing Ḥajj.
A good practice is to choose a textbook on Fiqh, which is concise and comprehensive enough to cover the core issues of the above obligations, without delving into differences of opinion.
Here are three books you could start with to get a good overview, starting with the easiest and smallest and then progressing to the largest and more detailed:
- Important Lessons For Every Muslim by Abdul-Azīz bin Abdullah bin Bāz.
- Fiqh Made Easy by Dr. Ṣāliḥ ibn Ghānim al-Sadlān.
- A Summary Of Islamic Jurisprudence Volume 1 by Ṣāliḥ al-Fawzān.
This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other books which could be mentioned, however, the goal should be small texts before the large texts, and contemporary explanations before the more classical explanations.
2. Learn Fiqh terminology
Learning the jargon of the subject as soon as possible. What does fiqh actually mean? What is Tahārah and what does it entail? What is a Ḥukm? If we translate it into english, we would say it is a ruling. So then what’s the difference between the ruling in a court and the ruling when we are discussing fiqh?
It is important to understand the key terms that are repeated throughout the subject so you can fully understand the book. It may be an idea to start by making a glossary of key terms and their definition when you first get started until the words become familiar to you. Then when you do read and attend lectures and the teacher says ‘the Ḥukm of this mas’alah is Mustaḥabb’ you are not completely lost.
Bonus tip: When writing down Fiqh terminology, try to find precise definitions as opposed to mere translations. The direct translation of a word from Arabic to English does not necessarily define the term; Islamic definitions are carefully worded and precise in meaning, so search for definitions penned by scholars as opposed to translations from a dictionary.
3. Join a community of students
It is easy for Shaytān to tempt you when you are doing something alone and not so easy when you are in a group, i.e. the wolf and the lone sheep!
Motivation will eventually dwindle so it is important to have somebody to keep you motivated and consistently attending lessons. When you have a friend who shares your passion for learning, he/she will encourage you, and you will find it harder to miss a lesson, than when you are going alone. So the question is how do you find a community of students? Start with a fiqh book or course that is being taught in a local masjid or islamic institute. Be prepared to travel and commit yourself to the entire course. Even if you start alone, you already all share something in common – seeking knowledge. Even if you cannot find a physical institute, join an online one! Remove the excuses, remember Shaytan wants to distract you away from beneficial knowledge.
4. Review and revise twice between lessons.
Knowledge is a path with many steps and each step requires effort and actions from you. If you are earnest in your pursuit of knowledge, which is the inheritance of the prophets, then you have to be willing to not just attend the lesson but also dedicate time to do review and revise. So in addition to the actual lesson, I recommend you dedicate two time slots to review the lesson. The first is in the evening of the lesson itself. If you re-read the material, summarise it in your own words, it will be etched it your long term memory and make it harder to forget. The second time slot is before the next lesson, on the day or the evening before. This will jog your memory and prepare you for the lesson ahead. In this way, you have read the material 3 times and summarised it in your own words.
Imagine that you may be put on the spot to teach the lesson or present an issue from the fiqh book. Would you try to rely on what you read 7 days ago or would you dedicate time before the lesson to revise. You will make sure to teach this section on that day, and do a lesson plan or summary? So use this mentality to keep consistent in revision.
5. Concept check with other students.
This is key, it keeps you on your toes and makes studying Fiqh more enjoyable. Take a fiqh issue the author discusses and give real life examples. Test yourself or test other students. In purification you will come across a phrase : water is three types: Tuhūr, Tāhir and Najs. Can you give an example of each type of water? You can say water that comes out the tap is Tuhūr because it is how Allāh created it. What examples can you give for water which is Tāhir and Najs. When you get stuck or find it difficult to give a real life example then you refer back to your teacher or an explanation of the book to help you fully grasp the fiqh issue. How many real life examples or scenarios can you give for every issue in the book?
As you are studying a book on Fiqh, take a book of Fatwa of the scholars and read the same chapter or topic in your down time. Combining Fiqh between a textbook and Fatwa compilation will help you understand the theoretical aspects as well as its implementation in real life situations.
With this method, you will gain an understanding of:
- The mas’alah: The issue in question.
- The fatwa : the verdict which gives the Ḥukm.
- The Dalīl : the evidence for the ruling.
- The Ḥikmah : the wisdom and reasoning behind the ruling.
In addition to the above, you may get an indication of any prominent differences of view between the scholars. It’s as if you get to shadow the scholars and benefit from their verdicts. There are two that have been translated into English that i recommend:
- Islamic Verdicts On The Pillars Of Islām (2 Volume Set) by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn
- Fatāwa Islāmiyah Vol. 1-8 both published by Darussalam.
Knowing your Lord through His beautiful names and loft attributes, and then understanding how to worship Him correctly, is an indicator of Allāh wanting goodness for you, as the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whomsoever Allah intends goodness for, He grants him fiqh (understanding) of the religion.”
So, begin your journey to understanding how to worship Allāh properly, and knowing the rulings of Ḥalāl and Ḥarām.
If you are ready to start studying fiqh, a good starting point would be this FREE course on the fiqh of prayer.
1. Choose a basic text book.
2. Learn Fiqh terminology.
3. Join a community of students.
4. Review and revise each lesson twice.
5. Concept check with other students.
Bonus tip: how to combine between theoretical learning and application.