Disclaimer: Notes are my own and of my understanding, which may or may not reflect the actual content/message the speaker was trying to portray. Class organized by Safinah Institute and taught by Ustaz Saif-ur-Rahman.
What is adab?
1. Fitrah – Natural disposition, an imbued virtue in every person by Allah. Recall to mind the story of Nabi Adam a.s. in which the angels were ordered to prostrate to him because of the knowledge taught to him by Allah.
2. Values – Doing the right thing in a right manner at the right time in the right place, includes all that is good. Learned, inculcated and nurtured over time.
3. Observations – Learning by what we see, experienced, know.
4. Discipline – Although fitrah, it is becoming a lost virtue. To maintain adab, one has to be disciplined, always bearing it in mind, and practicing often in everything we do in life, every day.
Purpose of learning/knowledge
To produce a good person, the inculcation of adab, which leads to taqwa (God-consciousness or piety). Because in the sight of Allah, the most noble of us are the ones with taqwa.
Most perfect example of a knowledgeable person with the best adab – Rasulullah s.a.w
In hadith from the Musnad of Imam Ahmad: Abū Hurayrah relates that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character (ahklaq).” Akhlaq is a form of taqwa, that comes from adab and knowledge.
It’s a form of ‘ibaadah, and always seek Allah’s pleasure through ‘ibaadah first and foremost (instead of just hoping for rewards)
“Life is a journey, faith (iman) is a process and adab is the discipline that ties life and faith together.”
Inward Manners of Adab
1. Intention / Niyyah – The intention for seeking knowledge: for personal gain, for fame? For a Muslim, the intention has to be ALWAYS to seek the pleasure of Allah, that this knowledge would benefit humanity, the ummah and/or the deen somehow. Acquire knowledge to be good, not to harm others.
2. Clear/Defined Goals – Have a clear sense what you’re seeking. Define what are the steps and goals to get what you’re seeking. What do you wish to achieve at the end of the day? And always ask if what you’re seeking/doing will help others.
3. Respect – Quite a lost art in this modern day. Have a deep, unshakable respect for teachers and scholars, even when we disagree. Their writings/books/thoughts are vessels containing knowledge and guidance. Barakah of respect = barakah of knowledge. As students, we have to be humble. We are the seekers, and by right, our teachers/scholars are actually not obligated to teach us if they don’t want to. Don’t make it as if it’s a favour we’ve done them by seeking them, because without them, we’ll have no knowledge in the first place.
4. Consistency – Learn something new every day. Set aside time to learn something every day (trying to memorize Quran is one of the good ways of implementing consistent learning in our lives). Put in effort, istiqamah (keep doing it consistently). Reward is actually not in the deed but the discipline. Consistency or routine discipline is a big part of life as shown by our 5 daily prayers.
5. Act upon knowledge – Fulfill the purpose of knowledge. Put into practice. Share and teach others.
Reflections: Knowledge with adab is one of the ways to jannah (recall hadith of being protected by angels for seekers of knowledge – link is: here). Adab is consistency which will help with iman fluctuations. Apply adab to everything we do in life; makes us better people, well-liked and respected by others. Finding a positive spin on things when it gets tough is also part of adab of learning.
Outward Manners of Adab
1. Repeat & Review – The virtues of repetition. Recall the saying by Zig Ziglar ‘repetition is the mother of all learning.’ Before him, our deen has already taught us that, not by words but by actions – our daily prayers, yearly fasting, yearly zakah are rituals in our deen that are repetitive, so much so it becomes second nature. When learning, always repeat and review, make knowledge stick.
2. Taking Notes and Personal Attitude – From the sunnah of Rasulullah’s sahabah; they were scribes and always jot down what he taught (how else then would we get the ahadith we have today?). Find your own preferred art or science of note-taking e.g. fish diagrams, charts, colorful web notes etc. The attitude to apply is seeking other sources of knowledge on the same topic, broadening the horizon.
3. Ask, Inquire, Clarify – Asking questions for things unsure. Ask with adab, and don’t ask for sake of argument or to prove a point. Need to constantly process info.
4. Extra Readings – The learning process includes notes, reference books, length and breadth of reading. Read effectively; get what the author is trying to say, context, what the main ideas are, why etc (useful concept of 5W1H; who what where why when how) The reading process should be in the following order: Reveal (a glance through), Review (get the plot/gist) and Remind (get details).
5. Preparations – Read up, review before class. Ask and seek clarification in class, note-taking. Organization of notes, understand, internalize and implementation after class. Always come to class with cup half full attitude, without pre-conceived notions, and soak up as much knowledge as possible – there’s always something new or a different perspective to learn.
Relationships Between Teachers-Students
1. Teachers/scholars are inheritors of the Prophets. The Prophets do not leave behind any wealth except knowledge (of haqq/truth).
2. Teachers are like father figures – disciplined but kind, strict but gentle, always wanting the best, always thinking positive that the hearts will open someday and blossom.
3. Students owe a debt of gratitude to ALL teachers (Islamic or secular education) so never be rude or think we’re ‘paying’ them because at the end of the day, the teachers are still the ones with knowledge; knowledge is power and more valuable than wealth.
How To Inspire Self-Learning/Students
1. Be passionate. Always eager to learn or share.
2. Rewards. Motivation.
3. Share/learn about inspirational successes of other people.
Knowledge = Attaining Blessings
1. Superiority of people with knowledge over those who don’t – Recall story of Nabi Adam a.s., when angels were told to prostrate before him (to note: that was a command of Allah to the angels, an exception to the rule, because the only being Muslims are to prostrate to is Allah azza wa jalla).
2. Raised status/ranks – Read Surah 58, ayat 11 (look how Allah mentions observance of adab first; proof adab is is so important and essential before seeking of knowledge) – link is here
3. True understanding of knowledge requires effort and patience, and none more apt an example and blessed an undertaking than the study of Quran – hadith about reading of each alphabet brings about 10 rewards (link is here)
4. Obtain Allah’s love – The Messenger of Allah said, “When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
5. Blessed by Allah’s creations – refer to hadith being protected by angels for seekers of knowledge
6. The quest for knowledge will never stop, the thirst for it will never be quenched, so one is constantly seeking, and in doing so, is constantly gaining blessings from Allah s.w.t
How To Increase Memory
1. Reduce food – Stop eating before full. One is closest to Allah when in prostration or when hungry. Hunger is what makes us realized our dependence on Allah, of how powerless and imperfect we are and how in need we are of His mercy. A reason why fasting in enjoined upon us, and why during the month Ramadhan we are supposed to come closer to Him by increasing our ‘ibaadat and reading His words (the Quran).
2. Increase tahajjud – Keeping a night vigil is the practice of all Prophets. We can ask Allah during this night vigil for anything because in a hadith qudsi, He says He descends to the lowest heaven saying, ‘Who will call Me that I might answer him, who will ask of Me that I might give him, who will ask My forgiveness, that I might forgive him?’ And interestingly, waking up in the middle of the night is actually a natural phenomenon (read this article: http://www.livescience.com/12891-natural-sleep.html).
3. Recite and memorize Quran – The methods we employ to memorize Quran is strengthening our memorization skils. However, always set the right intention, make wudhu’, be sincere, recite slowly and not be hasty, set limit in memorizing and most importantly, be consistent and disciplined.
Some Adab Tips Before Studying
1. Make wudhu’
2. Set the intention
3. Do 2 rakaat nawafil solat
4. Face Qibla, if possible
5. Have a balanced state of mind