The Methodology of Learning (Part 1)

Teaching the Learner, the Methodology of Learning is a book written by Burhan ad-Deen az-Zarnooji. Like Ibn Jama’ah, Burhan ad-Deen az-Zarnooji was from the 6th Century. He was from a place called Zarnooj in Turkistan. This book is his only work that has been discovered.

You can find the Arabic PDF version of this book here


All praise be to Allaah Who favored the Children of Adam with knowledge and action over the rest of the world. And may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad, the master of the Arabs and non-Arabs, and upon his family and companions from whom knowledge and wisdom spring.

And what follows:

I have observed that many seekers of knowledge in our time work hard towards knowledge but do not attain it (i.e. they are deprived from its benefits and fruits, which are gained by acting upon it and spreading it). This is because they mistake its path and abandon its conditions, and whomsoever mistakes the path will be misled and fail to reach his objective, be it little or great. Therefore, I desired to elucidate the methodology of learning according to what I have seen in books or heard from my learned and wise teachers.

Shaikh Hasan Bukhaari commented on this book, saying

  • The fruits and benefits of knowledge are not a certificate which you get or a test which you pass. Rather, it is acting upon what you learn and teaching it to others.
  • Whoever does not enter from the right gate to knowledge will not reach his goal. Knowledge has one way of entry and that is by taking care of its manners. If you lack manners, you will not reach your goal.

Chapter 1 – The Nature of Knowledge and Understanding and its Merits

The Prophet ﷺ said,

Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim. [Saheeh Ibn Maajah #184 and graded Saheeh by Al-Albaani]

[The addition على كل مسلم و مسلمة (upon every Muslim man and woman) is mentioned in the book; however, it is baseless]

Know that it is not obligatory upon every Muslim to seek all aspects of knowledge; rather, it is only incumbent upon him to seek علم الحال (i.e. knowledge that relates to one’s state). 

Knowledge that relates to one’s state is the knowledge one needs in his particular state. For example, if one is going for Hajj, he needs to learn about Hajj. If he is going to enter the month of Ramadan, he needs to learn about the virtues of the month, fasting in it, etc.

It is said: The best of knowledge is the knowledge of one’s state and the best of actions is that which preserves one’s state.

I.e. that which preserves your uprightness and keeps you away from misguidance. The best of deeds is that which maintains your reformation and faith, and not necessarily abundant and voluntary acts.

It is said: The best of knowledge is the knowledge of one’s state and the best of actions is that which preserves one’s state.

I.e. that which preserves your uprightness and keeps you away from misguidance. The best of deeds is that which maintains your reformation and faith, and not necessarily abundant and voluntary acts.

It is incumbent upon a Muslim to seek knowledge in regard to what occurs in his state, whatever state that may be. Therefore, since one must perform the prayer, it is obligatory for him to know about what occurs in it, in accordance to how much he needs to know to fulfill its obligations. This is because whatever leads to fulfillment of a duty is itself a duty and whatever establishes an obligation is itself an obligation. 

This too applies to fasting, paying Zakat – if one possesses wealth, and Hajj – when one is under obligation to perform it. It also applies to trading goods if one is engaged in commerce, and all other transactions and professions. Anyone who works in a given field is duty bound to learn how to guard against what is forbidden therein.

Many of us go to work without knowing the Halal and Haraam in that field. This is negligence. Since you have obliged yourself with certain actions, you must have knowledge about it. 

Likewise, it is obligatory upon a person to have knowledge about the conditions of the heart, such as reliance on Allaah, returning to Him, fear, pleasure, etc. as they occur in all one’s states.

Every act of worship is preceded by an action of the heart. Thus, you should know the state of your heart. You must take care of your intention, your reliance on Allaah, your fear, your hope, etc. 

The Virtue of Knowledge

The nobility of knowledge is not foreign to anyone since it is special to mankind. All virtuous characteristics (such as courage, boldness, strength, generosity, compassion, etc.) are shared by both humans and animals, except for knowledge. 

By knowledge, Allaah showed the prominence of Adam (‘Alayhis-salaam) over the angels and commanded them to prostrate to him.

And the merit of knowledge is only due to the fact that it is a means to righteousness and piety, which then entitles the believer to be dignified in front of Allaah and to earn eternal happiness. 

It is mentioned that Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (the companion of Abu Hanifa) used to say in poetry: 

Learn! For learning is an adornment for the one who possesses it…..and a virtue and prelude to everything praiseworthy. 

Be a person who increases in benefit every day……..of knowledge. And swim in the seas of benefit.

Understand! For indeed understanding knowledge is the best driver… righteousness and piety and the most just objectives.

It is the guiding knowledge to the guided ways ….and it is a fortress that rescues from all hardships.

For indeed one knowledgeable being ……is more severe upon the devil than a thousand worshippers. 

Worshippers may fall into Bid’ah (innovation), but a knowledgeable scholar is strong against the Shaytaan. 

In addition to that, knowledge is a means of knowing arrogance, humility, unity, chastity, prodigality (extravagance), stinginess, and similarly all other characteristics such as generosity, cowardice and courage.

Arrogance, miserliness, cowardice, and prodigality are forbidden in Islam, and it is not possible to guard oneself against them except by first knowing them and knowing what is opposite to them. Therefore, it is the duty of every person to have knowledge about them.

Humans have both good and bad characteristics. Knowledge refines these manners and characteristics.


The obligatory Knowledge is: 

a)      Knowledge pertaining to one’s state 

b)      Knowledge about the conditions of the heart

The Virtue of Knowledge: 

a) It is an honor for the person.

b) It is the distinguishing factor between humans and animals.

c) A person attains Paradise by it.

d) It is a fortress against hardship and the Shaytaan.

e) It guides the person to piety and righteousness.

f)  It refines human characteristics.

Because the Salaf honored the assemblies of knowledge, Allaah honored them. Your manners in the gatherings of knowledge indicate how much you magnify Allaah. Similarly, if a person does not magnify the gatherings of knowledge, it is an indication of his lack of magnification of Allaah. The Salaf even used to take care of their sitting in the assemblies, to the degree that you could not even hear the sound of pages flipping or pencils being sharpened in Imam Maalik’s gatherings. 


About Enlightenment into Islam Center

The Enlightenment into Islam Center is a community of sisters who aim to please Allah by seeking knowledge and calling the people (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) to Tawheed and obedience to Allah by spreading the true knowledge of Islam based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Posted on March 2, 2019, in Acquiring Knowledge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Jazakom Allaahu khayr, any comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s