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How to Read the Books of the People of Knowledge

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  • Arshad by way ofMr. P.I. Hublou
    Asalaam alaikum, How to Read the Books of the People of Knowledge By Saalih Aali-Shaikh (Minister of the Islamic Affairs Department Saudi Arabia)
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2002
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      Asalaam alaikum,

      How to Read the Books of the People of Knowledge
      By Saalih Aali-Shaikh (Minister of the Islamic Affairs Department Saudi
      Arabia)
      ============================================================================
      =====

      All praise is due to Allah the One who sent His messenger with the guidance
      and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all
      religion, and Allah is sufficient as a witness. I testify that there is no
      god but Allah alone and that He has no partner. And I testify that Muhammad
      is His servant and Messenger, may Allah greatly bless him, his family, and
      his companions. And as to what follows:


      Seeking knowledge is a lengthy path that is not possible to embark upon
      except by abandoning play and amusement and approaching it in a serious
      manner. This is because Allah the Exalted, the most High, described what He
      revealed to Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), and He (Allah) is the
      most truthful in speech, as a weighty word. Allah the Exalted, the most High
      says, "Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty word." (Al-Muzzammil: 5),
      and this weighty word is the Kitaab and the sunnah. Thus, when it was said
      to Imam Maalik Ibn Anas, Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah (Madinah), concerning some
      questions he could not answer, "These are easy questions." He replied, "Do
      not say this, for regardless whether the knowledge is small or big, there
      exists no such thing as easy because Allah the Exalted, the most High
      described it as a weighty word." This is very in-depth understanding. It is
      the first step towards seeking knowledge – that one realizes that all
      knowledge is weighty. Every field (of knowledge) requires that one
      approaches it wholeheartedly and with an objective mind. So whoever says
      that this is an easy matter and just passes by it without paying close
      attention, then such a person will not gain knowledge until all the branches
      of knowledge are of equal footing (to him/her). Whether it is the
      generalities (of knowledge) or the specifics, the principles or the details.
      A person must give equal concern to all the aspects of knowledge, whether it
      is obtaining it, revising it or memorizing it. Because if you leave it, it
      leaves you, and if you approach, it gives you some. As the famous saying
      states, "Knowledge is a thing that if you give it all of yourself it gives
      you some of itself, and if you give some of yourself you will gain nothing
      of it." Practical experience proves this. Hence, I titled this lecture: "How
      to Read the Books of the People of Knowledge." This is very important topic
      because many people have read different types of books, and a lot of them
      complain that they have not obtained firmly, grounded knowledge to the
      extent that they can feel satisfied (with themselves) for all the years that
      they have exerted in seeking knowledge. Perhaps some of them have attended
      classes of the people of knowledge, they may have even written research
      papers or wrote books. However, within themselves they are aware that they
      have not attained knowledge whereby they can clearly distinguish matters.
      Thus, because of this problem this lecture came about. For one must have a
      structured methodology when reading the books of the people of knowledge.
      And whoever does not thread upon a structured methodology that he can resort
      to, he will leave the clear path and adopt conflicting ones.


      The evolution of knowledge

      If one were to take a look at the books that are present in our times, one
      would discover that there are tens of thousands of them and in many
      different subjects. But is there so much knowledge as is reflected in
      multitudes of these books? The answer to this question was given by the
      rightly guided khalifah Ali Ibn Abi Talib when he said, "Knowledge is a
      small dot magnified by the ignorant ones." He meant that the basis of the
      knowledge that the companions (May Allah be pleased with them) understood
      was not much, i.e. just the understanding of the Kitaab and the sunnah. This
      knowledge was relatively little with regards to the many problems that began
      to appear during Ali’s time. This is because as time progresses the more
      people become distanced from the period of the early Muslims, the need for
      knowledge and books increases so that people can understand (their
      religion). It is because of the presence of ignorance and its people many
      books were written. By doing this, many of the ignorant ones were
      enlightened and many of those who had went astray were guided. Likewise, one
      finds that the books during the initial stages of Islam were very little,
      then it gradually increased. The first books to be written were those of
      hadeeth after the complete compilation of the Quran. Then the books of
      aqeedah came when the different groups began to appear like the Khawarij and
      the Murji’ah. These books (of aqeedah) were found either within the works of
      the people of hadeeth (like Al-Bukhari, Muslim, et. al) or in the form of
      treatise, (and things evolved like this) until each Islamic science had many
      books. So therefore, if we would like to establish a standardized
      methodology for reading the books of the people of knowledge, then we will
      have to divide this (methodology) into two broad categories:


      General guidelines for reading any book

      I am going to mention some general guidelines that are applicable for
      reading any kind of book, whether it is the books of aqeedah, tafseer, fiqh,
      etc. But first of all it must be known that Islamic knowledge is divided
      into two main categories: 1. Knowledge that is sought as an end in of
      itself, and 2. Knowledge that is sought as a means to an end. The knowledge
      that is sought due to its intrinsic nature is the knowledge wherein one is
      able to comprehend the Book of Allah and the sunnah of his messenger
      (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). These (who posses this knowledge) are the
      ones who are praised in the ayah, "Allâh will exalt in degree those of you
      who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. " (Al-Mujâdilah: 11)
      i.e. they understand the Book of Allah and the sunnah of his messenger
      (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) as it should be understood. Knowledge of the
      Quran and the sunnah consists of At Tawheed and matters of halal and haram.
      Therefore, this issue in fact goes back to two types of knowledge –
      At-Tawheed which is actually aqeedah, and matters of halal and haram i.e.
      fiqh. These two types of knowledge are aimed at in of itself, because by
      (knowledge of) At-Tawheed one achieves sincerity in his worship of Allah,
      and by (knowledge of) fiqh one is able to execute the commands of Allah and
      abstain from His prohibitions. For Allah the Exalted, the most High has made
      this deen based upon information and commands, therefore believing in the
      information is considered aqeedah or creed, and fulfilling His command is
      considered action. Allah the Exalted, the most High states, "And the Word of
      your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice" (Al-An'âm: 115) –
      truth in what He informs of, and justice in His commands and prohibitions.
      Thus, the knowledge of At-Tawheed and fiqh is sought for its innate nature.
      The other branches of knowledge such as Arabic grammar, principles of fiqh,
      the science of hadeeth, seerah, etc. are all sought as a means to an end and
      not as end in of itself. Because when a person these books, he reads them in
      order to arrive at the knowledge of aqeedah and the knowledge of fiqh.


      Read books in stages

      One must know that books from any science whether it is books of tafseer,
      hadeeth, fiqh, aqeedah, etc., are divided into the "matoon" or the basic,
      abridged texts, the intermediary level books and the books of detailed
      explanation. Consequently, the one who delves into the detailed books before
      the basic ones has indeed missed a very important point in establishing the
      proper methodology for seeking knowledge. The abridged books serve a
      purpose, that is to establish the foundations of knowledge, and any building
      as is known, needs a foundation to be laid before it can be raised up. The
      basic or abridged books paves the way for the intermediary level books, and
      the intermediary level books paves the way for the detailed ones. Therefore,
      the one who is not proficient in the basic books should not delve into the
      detailed ones, because the function of the detailed books is to clarify what
      may be difficult to understand in the basic ones. Likewise, it is not very
      pleasing that we hear from some rudimentary level students of knowledge when
      they say, "I read Fath Al-Bari," or "I read Al-Mughni", or "I read Al-Majmoo
      Sharh Al-Muhadhab," or " I read Al-Muhala," and so forth. This is not good
      because even though they read these books, the end result will be a lack of
      attainment. Furthermore, the information such a person has will be scattered
      in his head, unable to link and organize the knowledge he posses. Therefore,
      in order to establish a proper foundation, one must begin with the abridged
      or basic books, then the intermediary level books and finally the books of
      detailed explanation. However, if one would like to research an issue, then
      refer to any book - basic or detailed, but just keep in mind that when it
      comes to seeking knowledge one must build a foundation by learning the
      things that are elementary before the advanced issues. How excellent was
      what Al-Muwafiq Ibn Qudammah did when he authored books in fiqh that
      exemplified this methodology. He wrote the book, "Al-Umdah" which is an
      abridged book for the beginner, then "Al-Muqni" which is a bit longer than
      "Al-Umdah", then "Al-Kafi" which is for the intermediate student and also a
      bit longer than "Al-Muqni," and finally for the advanced student, "Al-Mughni
      (all books of Hanbali fiqh). I remember one time I heard Al-Allamah
      Abdur-razzaaq Al-Afefeh (May Allah have mercy upon him) say, "Indeed
      Al-Muwafiq Ibn Qudammah (May Allah have mercy upon him) preceded the present
      day educational system, he made "Al-Umdah" for the one in elementary school,
      then "Al-Muqni" for the middle school student, then "Al-Kafi" for the high
      school student and "Al-Mughni" for those at college level. The point I am
      trying to emphasize is that it is very important that one should
      differentiate between reading to establish a foundation and reading just to
      be informed about certain issues. I gave an important lecture that has been
      recorded about this issue entitled: "The Difference Between the Essentials
      and the Anecdotes of Knowledge." Knowledge has essentials by which it is
      built upon and the anecdotes are that which help to support the essential
      knowledge. Hence, whoever immerses himself in the anecdotes and abandons the
      essentials of knowledge will not gather anything (substantial). Rather, such
      a person will know a lot of stories and have a lot of information, however,
      he will not be able to discuss an issue of fiqh or aqeedah with clarity.
      Therefore, the proper methodology is to read the basic, general books, then
      move on to the more detailed ones.


      Be familiar with the authors’ background

      The reader must pay special attention to the madhab of the author. The
      scholars wrote books, however they wrote them according to their madhab and
      educational background. There were those who were Hanbali, those who were
      As-Shafi’ee, those who were Maliki and those who were Hanafi. Likewise,
      there were those who very knowledgeable of the sunnah, there were those who
      mostly had correct opinions and few mistakes, there were those who mixed
      bidah with sunnah, and so forth. Therefore, knowing the background of an
      author is very important before reading his book, because the reader can be
      influenced by the author while he is least aware of his background. For
      example, some students of knowledge always give precedence to what is in the
      books of the explanation of hadeeth over what is in the extensive books of
      fiqh. This is because, according to them, those who explain the books of
      hadeeth are more independent minded and further removed from taqleed (blind
      following) than those who explain the books of fiqh. Thus, such a person
      thinks that the disposition of the explainer of the books of hadeeth has
      more weight than the disposition of those who explain the books of fiqh, and
      this is not always correct. As a matter of fact, we found that the
      inclinations of those who explain the books of hadeeth are often based upon
      their madhab. For example, one finds that Imam An-Nawawi in his explaination
      of Saheeh Muslim gives more weight (to an opinion) according to what the
      As-Shafi’ee madhab considers the strongest opinion. Also, if one observes
      how he derives his rulings, one would realize that he derives his rulings
      based upon the As-Shafi’ee principles of fiqh. So a person looks and notices
      that Imam An-Nawawi uses an authentic hadeeth to give precedence to a
      particular opinion, therefore this person agrees with him (Imam An-Nawawi)
      based upon fact that the hadeeth is authentic. This may be a correct
      approach in most instances, however, in some instances this approach can be
      incorrect. Sometimes we find him (Imam An-Nawawi) gives more weight to a
      particular opinion whereas the correct one may be otherwise. How is that?
      Because the authenticity of a hadeeth is not sufficient to establish the
      validity of an opinion in matters of fiqh. To the contrary, and more
      importantly, it is to look and see from what standpoint did that scholar
      arrive at that particular ruling. I mean how did he arrive at this
      particular ruling based upon his understanding of the hadeeth. This in
      actuality goes back to the principles of fiqh. For example, one finds in his
      book Riyad-us-Saliheen, he has a chapter entitled: "The Undesirability of
      Swearing in the Name of Anything besides Allah" wherein he uses as his
      evidence the hadeeth, "He who swears by anyone or anything other than Allah,
      has indeed committed an act of Kufr or Shirk.'' (At-Tirmidhee: saheeh) And
      the hadeeth, "He who swears by Amanah (trust) is not one of us.'' (Abu
      Dawud: saheeh) So a person notices that Imam An-Nawawi considers it ‘makruh’
      or disliked to do such an act based on (his understanding of) the hadeeth.
      However, there is a big difference between saying something is makruh and
      the statement of the messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), "He who
      swears by anyone or anything other than Allah, has indeed committed an act
      of Kufr or Shirk.'' Moreover, it an established principle with the foremost
      scholars of the people of knowledge, that the statement of the messenger
      (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), "He is not from us whoever does such and
      such," indicates that this act is prohibited. The majority of scholars of
      the principles of fiqh also confirm this rule. Therefore, putting a heading
      on a chapter is one thing, but how this evidence is used is another. If we
      were to discuss with Imam An-Nawawi why he considers this makruh, we do not
      know what he will say. But I think his interpretation of the hadeeth will be
      based upon a principle of fiqh from the As-Shafi’ee madhab that considers
      this type of shirk to be a minor one. The point I am trying to make is that
      one should pay attention to the difference between a ruling on a matter and
      how the evidences were used to arrive at this ruling. Therefore, as a
      general principle when reading the books of the people of knowledge, one
      should pay attention to the methodology of the author. Simply because one
      author uses an authentic hadeeth as proof for the validity of his opinion,
      and another lacks any evidence, means that this author’s opinion is actually
      the strongest one in that matter – this in very rare indeed (that those of
      opposing view lack any evidence). These issues are referred to as matters of
      differences of opinion and our discussion is not about this. Verily, what
      one finds is that the differences occurs using the same evidence. One
      scholar views it this way, and the other views it a next. Therefore, when
      should an opinion be considered the weightiest (among differing opinions)?
      If it is that the opposing viewpoints to the first opinion are less than the
      opposing viewpoints to the second opinion (then this is most likely the
      strongest opinion in this matter). For example, whenever one reads the books
      of fiqh, one finds that two scholars arrive at differing conclusions based
      upon the same ayah or hadeeth. So therefore, which of these opinions would
      be the strongest, the first or the second? This is not a matter of choice
      based upon whim and fancies. Rather, we give more weight to the opinion that
      has the least objections to it. Moreover, one should not think that of the
      many issues of differences of opinion, the strongest opinion is the
      strongest in the absolute sense, i.e. one opinion is completely correct and
      the other is completely incorrect. This is rarely occurs in matters of
      knowledge. More accurately, what happens is that one scholar uses a hadeeth
      or ayah to prove this and the next one uses the same to prove that, however,
      the objections to opinion number one is less than the objections to opinion
      number two. Thus, the one that has the least objections to it would be
      considered the stronger opinion, and the other which has more objections to
      it, would be considered the weaker opinion.


      Every discipline has its language

      A student of knowledge, whenever reading the books of the people of
      knowledge, must try to understand the matters therein according to the
      language of the people of knowledge. For every discipline has its Language.
      For example, the one who reads the fatwa of Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah
      (May Allah have mercy upon him) in a similar manner that he reads and
      understands a newspaper or a magazine, such a person will indeed make many
      mistakes in his understanding of the intent of Shaikh Al-Islam words. This
      is because the people of knowledge, regardless of the different eras that
      they lived in, they wrote the knowledge according to the language of that
      particular branch of knowledge, and they did not write it based on the
      colloquial dialect that was commonly spoken in their times. This was done so
      that the knowledge can be continuously passed on; thus the first will
      understand it just as the last. Therefore, each branch of knowledge has its
      own terminology and language that must be understood within the repository
      context that embodies the language. For the language is the reservoir for
      the meaning of the words. Hence, it is not behooving that an individual
      understands what he reads based on notions acquired from the past, because
      if he understands the works of the scholars on this basis, his understanding
      will differ with what they intended. Thus, the student of knowledge –
      whether he teaches or studies, should strive to express knowledge-based
      matters in accordance with the language of its people. Because if he
      discusses knowledge-based matters contrary to the language of its people,
      neither will he be fully connecting with those who preceded him, nor will he
      fully obtain what is ahead of him. The previously mentioned points were
      general guidelines (on what to look for and pay attention to when reading
      the books of the scholars), now we will go to the specifics.


      How to read the books of Aqeedah

      Al Aqeedah, how does one read the books of creed? Aqeedah is based upon
      clarity, and it is the explanation of the pillars of imaan. "The Messenger
      (Muhammad SAW) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and
      (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allâh, His Angels, His Books,
      and His Messengers." (Al-Baqarah: 285) Therefore, the pillars of imaan are
      six easy pillars that the fitrah naturally accepts. However, when
      misconceptions became rampant in this regard, the people of knowledge began
      to write books of aqeedah. The books of aqeedah written by the salaf can be
      divided into two categories: 1. Books that discussed the issue of aqeedah in
      a general form, and 2. Books that discussed issues of aqeedah in a detailed
      manner. Some students of knowledge think that is more beneficial to read the
      detailed books of aqeedah (before the general ones). Thus, they go directly
      to the "Fatawa" of Ibn Taymiyyah, they immediately read "Al-Imaan" by Ibn
      Manda or his other book "At-Tawheed", they go directly to "As-Sharee’ah" by
      Al-Aajooree, or Al-Lilakaaee’s book, and so forth. There is no doubt that
      these books give a firm grounding in the madhab of the salaf. However the
      madhab of the salaf and their statements are dispersed whereby the early
      scholars (al mutaqademeen) did not write their books in a clear, organized,
      structured manner. Hence, the later generation of scholars from the people
      of the sunnah like Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qudaamah and others like them, came
      after and summarized these books and matters of aqeedah. Therefore, the path
      to the detailed books of aqeedah is to understand the abridged books of
      aqeedah like "Al-Waasitiyah" and "Al-Hamawiyyah" By Shaikh Al-Islaam,
      "Lumatil i’tiqaad" by Ibn Qudaamah, and so on. Thus, if one has a competent
      understanding of these books, one can refer to the books of the early
      scholars based on three approaches:


      The first approach is wherein one refers the detailed books after having
      studied an issue of aqeedah in the abridged versions. For example, one comes
      across the issue of imaan in aqeedah, is imaan a statement, belief and
      action, or is it just a statement and belief without action? This is a very,
      well-known matter of disagreement between the people of hadeeth and the
      murji’ah of the fuqahah. The abridged books of aqeedah will give a glimpse
      into the differences regarding this matter, but if one wants the specifics,
      he has to go the detailed books. However, before going to the books of the
      early scholars, one should be proficient in the books of the later
      generation of scholars. This is because the books of the early scholars are
      very profound. So if a person reads the books of the early scholars without
      being aware of the principles that the later generation of scholars laid
      down regarding aqeedah, he will indeed have huge deficiencies in his
      understanding of the methodology and aqeedah of ahlu’sunnah. For example,
      what is reported in some of the books of ahlu’sunnah about Al Imam Abu
      Hanifah, may Allah have mercy upon him and elevate his level in jannah. If a
      person reads such books of the early scholars, he would find that they
      mentioned things about this imam the later generation of scholars did not
      mention. Rather, they abandoned and avoided such matters altogether. Hence,
      one does not see in the works of Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah such an
      unfavorable mention of Al-Imam Abu Hanifah (may Allah have mercy upon him).
      In spite of the fact that the books of the early scholars mention that he
      did this, he did that… and so forth. They abandoned such issues because it
      was a matter that had its respective time and place. Thus, Shaikh Al-Islam
      wrote "Raf al malaam fee a’imamtul a’laam" (Exonerating the Great Scholars
      from Blame), and from amongst them he defended Al-Imam Abu Hanifah,
      notwithstanding the fact that his statement (Abu Hanifah) regarding imaan is
      well known. However, as it has been said regarding his honor, one should not
      hold these matters against him.
      Were a person to read the books of the early scholars before that of the
      later generation of them, there will be deficiencies in his understanding of
      their works. Where do these deficiencies originate? These deficiencies
      originate from the fact that if a person is not aware of the particular
      environment that the statements of the salaf were made in, he will fail to
      properly understand their statements. This means a person must be aware of
      the circumstances of that particular time, such as the statements of the
      salaf, the schools of thought, the fitnah, and so forth. Hence, for example,
      when As Shaikh Abdullah Ibn Hasan (may Allah have mercy upon him) and those
      mashaayikh (plural of shaikh) from Makkah who were with, decided to print
      "Kitaab As Sunnah" by Abdullah, son of imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy upon
      him), they did not see any problem in eliminating a complete chapter related
      to Abu Hanifah and his followers. This was done to bring about a shariah
      benefit that agrees with the methodology of ahlu‘sunnah wal jamaah, hence
      they took out a complete chapter containing criticisms about Abu Hanifah and
      his followers. Is this removal considered failing to fulfill the trust, as
      some claim? Absolutely not, to the contrary, this is actually fulfilling the
      trust. This is because the trust we are required to fulfill is not the
      obligation of complete acceptance of what are in these books. Indeed, the
      real duty is to strive to so that the ummah will remain united in its
      aqeedah and brotherly love. So if the relevance those statements disappeared
      in time, then repeating them serves not benefit for the religion. And no
      doubt this is a very important point to comprehend.

      Some of the statements of the salaf regarding the innovators and the people
      of desires have its circumstantial relevance during the early period of
      Islaam, and these statements may not be applicable in our times. However,
      you find some people taking these general statements and applying them to a
      condition that differs with the environment those statements were applicable
      in. But if they were to see the statements of the great imams and the
      foremost scholars from ahlu‘sunnah, they would realize that they contradict
      these scholars in their application (of their statements). This point was
      brought up just to emphasize the importance of reading and having a proper
      understanding of the books of aqeedah by the later generation of scholars
      from ahlu‘sunnah before delving into the books of the earlier ones. For
      immersion into the books (aqeedah) of the salaf, without knowing the
      principles the later scholars of ahlu‘sunnah laid down, will result in a
      defective understanding of the methodology of the salaf. And there are many
      examples of this that might need a longer time to explain.

      The second level of approach is to know the incorrect statements from its
      source of origin. Now this is for the advanced student of knowledge and not
      the beginner. This means that one should be proficient in both the abridged
      books of aqeedah and the statements of the salaf. After having done this,
      one moves on to the knowing the refuted statements from the books of origin.
      For it is not sufficient to accept a refutation of a person without having
      heard or read that person’s statement, except if the transmitter (of this
      refutation) is a trustworthy person. This is without a doubt sufficient,
      however reading the book this statement is taken from helps to clarify the
      intent behind that particular statement. Sometimes one finds (in the books
      of refutation), for example, "this person said such and such", "the Ashaa’
      irah have this opinion regarding that matter", and so on. However, if one
      examines their books, one would find within it details that this particular
      author (who is doing the refuting) did not mention, so the reader
      understands (this concept that is being refuted) outside of its proper
      context, thus the group’s ideology is misconstrued. Yes, we do not defend
      the people of innovation, however Allah the Exalted, the most High made it
      obligatory upon us that we do not let the dislike of a people depart from
      being fair. "And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to
      wrong and depart from justice." (Al-Ma’idah: 8) The one who does not let his
      emotions cloud his thinking should be even more impartial is his assessment
      and opinion of knowledge based issues. This is because (obtaining) knowledge
      requires that one is unbiased, and the unbiased person is the one who
      approaches Allah with a pure heart. So one examines their statements wherein
      one comes across a refutation of those who refuted them that says, "This
      point they accuse of us is not mentioned in our books." However, one would
      have the upper hand because you can prove that it is actually mentioned in
      such and such book. To give a common example we often use: the Ashaa’irah
      and the Matrudiyyah perceive that the objective of Tawheed is to confirm the
      Tawheedur-Roobibiyyah (Allah being single in His Lordship), and not the
      Tawheedul-‘Uboodiyyah (singling out Allah for worship). That is – whoever
      believes in the existence of Allah the Exalted, the most High is the One who
      is able to originate and He is the Creator, then this is sufficient for ones
      ’ actualization of "Laa ilaha ilallaah." So if one of them comes and says,
      "This is not correct, our scholars (Ashaa’irah or Matrudiyyah) do not say
      this. Rather, you all just repeat words your scholars say of which you all
      don’t know its meaning." However, one can say to them, that in your abridged
      books of aqeedah like "As-Sanoosiyyah" which is considered the primer for
      Ashari aqeedah, therein it states, "Fa alillahu huwa al mustaghnee ‘amma
      sewaahu, al muftakiru ilayhi kulu maa ‘adaahu ilallaah." That is, "Laa ilaha
      ilallaah" means Allah is self-sufficient of every being, and every being
      besides Him is in need of Him. Hence, one has established the clear
      evidences. Therefore, the student of knowledge must refer back to the
      original books if they would like to write, especially if it is a
      refutation, so that the people can see statements as they are, while
      simultaneously being trustworthy in his report. However, I repeat, this
      should only be done by the one is proficient in matters of aqeedah. Neither
      is it proper for the beginner to refer to their books, nor do I advise you
      all to refer to their books. But if one wants to do a refutation in the
      correct manner, then he must adopt this methodology.
      The third and final approach is to read the fataawa of the scholars in
      aqeedah. Many of the issues they discuss are theoretical. So who are the
      ones that are able to apply these theories to real life situations? The
      foremost people of knowledge and the ones firmly grounded in it (are the
      ones that are able to apply these theories to real life situations). They
      take these theoretical matters and apply it to reality. Hence, third level
      of approach in reading the books of aqeedah is to refer to the fataawa so
      that one can make a connection between what is present in the books of
      aqeedah and what is current.

      We could have extended this lecture, but perhaps the general guidelines that
      we discussed at the beginning of the lecture can be applied to the other
      branches of knowledge such as matters of fiqh, grammar and so forth. Finally
      I ask Allah the Exalted, the most High, to inspire me and you to that which
      is good and to the point, to protect us from our shortcomings and to make
      our accuracies exceed our mistakes. O Allah I ask You to forgive us our sins
      and faults, I ask You to forgive us all. O Allah have mercy upon us and have
      mercy upon our parents, indeed You are the most merciful of those who show
      mercy.

      wasalaam,
      Arshad
      http://get.to/islam
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