This is a guest post we received by Umm Abdullah, and will be the first post in a 3 part series. Tomorrow we will post a follow up to this article from our staff members giving another viewpoint on the format of seeking knowledge, and on Monday we will have a follow up article specifically discussing marketing of Islamic programs in detail, so stay tuned insha'Allah.

Part 1 – This article | Part 2 – Format of Seeking Knowledge | Part 3 – Marketing Islamic Programs

big_saleMy greatest complaint about Eid prayer is that there aren't enough trash cans that I can easily get to to chunk all the fliers that are handed to me in the prayer hall. Somewhere in between saying salaam after my prayer to getting done saying salaam to all of my friends, I find my hands filled with fliers for all the Islamic conferences, classes, and events going on. With each postcard I receive, the marketer also delivers a sales pitch before I scurry away:

“Register today and receive a 10% discount!”

“Sign up with 5 friends, get $5 off!”

“Come to the lecture everyone's talking about!”

Lectures, speeches, lectures, speeches, lectures, speeches. They never end and we should be grateful. We are. But since when did this become our main source of attaining Islamic knowledge? What do I mean? Well…

Purchasing Religion

Our bookshelves at home are caked with dust, but I'm not here to write about how we don't pick up the Qur'an and read it enough because there are a stack of books lying beneath the Qur'an. These books are shut tight because rarely have they been opened. We may not even know their titles. These are tafseer books by Ibn Kathir, aqeedah books by Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, and maybe even the Muwatta of imam Malik. But we don't pry them open to soak in the comprehensive, profuse amounts of knowledge that are waiting to flood off of the pages and into our minds. And why should we when we can, well, just buy Islam?

We should clear off our bookshelves and make room for the hundreds of fliers, emails, and Facebook invitations we receive about these Islamic knowledge events. I mean, there's no use in keeping the books we have on there. Right?

My question today is why has our primary route for gaining knowledge of Islam become through classes, conferences, and seminars? Anyone hitch a ride to a masjid or pay a hundred bucks to attend a class, but not just anyone can and does crack open a book of knowledge. We begin to rely on someone to stand and talk to us. We wait for the knowledge to come to us, we don't go to it.

Branding Bandwagon

Islam is a religion meant to be easy and therefore Muslims set up organizations to deliver Islam to brothers' and sisters' locales. This is all fine until those same brothers and sisters then stop learning Islam on their own because they figure they can just buy it in the form of Powerpoint slideshows, class notebooks, and conference badges – all giving access to wide selections of religious entertainment.

Pretty soon it's no longer about going to such-and-such seminar to learn about the fiqh of fasting. It's about going to Organization X's event for the sake of it being an X lecture with speakers A and B. Fame is in the name.

Umar: Man are you going to that new X event? EVERYONE is going!

Hassan: Oh cool! What's it about?

Umar: Uhh I don't know but Organization X is hosting it!

Hassan: … But what are they going to teach us? Praying? Fasting? Hajj? … Marriage?!

Umar: OMG maybe it's about marriage! I don't know but it's X so it's gotta be good!

Hassan: -_-

Umar: Come on man, don't you want to learn about Islam FOR THE SAKE OF Allah? What would you rather do, play basketball??? How are you going to answer for that on the Day of Judgment when you could've been learning from speaker A and speaker B!

Hassan: [Feeling guilty] Oh I guess. What are their credentials?

Umar: Credentials? Dude they're Shuyukh!

Hassan: But where did they learn about Islam from? Do they have PhD's?

Umar: Why are you questioning our scholars of Islam? These guys do lectures all over Canada, the US, the UK, they're awesome!

Hassan: Umm… I'm sorry..?

Then we parade behind the banners of all the Organization X's out there which turn into X Groupies. All other Muslims who feel a little pushed away from these cliques don't dare to enter an X event and therefore walk away from X with a bad impression. What just happened here? Knowledge of Islam became all about Organization X and Shaykh A and Shaykh B.

Read! Iqra! Paro! Lea! Lire! 阅读!

Slowly we lose sight of the old-fashioned yet effective ways of learning. There's nothing wrong with being traditional. Why can't we learn without someone standing in front of us with a mic cracking jokes here and there while explaining the principles of the Oneness of Allah? Why can't we simply open a credible book and learn from it? Besides, how did the hundreds of speakers who we study under gain their knowledge no matter which culture, nation, or language was native to them? They read. When imam An-Nawawi was studying Islam, he had stacks of books towering up to the ceiling of his room!

Of course it isn't necessary to solely read to enlighten ourselves; we can and should listen to lectures as well. But I'm simply pointing out lectures alone aren't enough either. We walk into Islamic classes expecting to learn all about how to pray according to the Sunnah by sitting there and listening to a speaker, when in reality we can't learn all there is on the topic by doing so. There is just so much to our magnificent religion that can't be covered in a couple of lectures. We have to go home and research on our own. Investigate the different opinions, learn about the fiqh issues involved, and choose to follow the path we find most plausible. When we have questions about what we read, we can always ask those who have more knowledge than us. This is a beneficial middle ground solution for all the Organization X or Shaykh A/B fan boys and girls.

Remember this is how Islam first began. It started with the command to read. It's how Islam was spread, passing on copies of our Scripture. It's how Islam will be preserved and carried on forever, imprinted in hearts and pages. Through this action of reading there's a lot we can gain, perhaps more than what can be sought from only sitting in auditorium seats trying to attend every one of the events on fliers we receive during Eid prayer. :)

114 Responses

  1. Shariq

    Wow, nice post masha’Allah!

    People rely too much on these boot camp seminars for ‘knowledge’, when what they are really going for is the social hype (I am generalizing of course). The information goes in one ear and out the other with only 5 – 10 percent staying back (I made up the percentage), and the only people that benefited were the ones that recieved the $XXX.

    Read a book! Save some money, and RETAIN the knowledge!

    Thanks for the excellent post!

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  2. mohammed

    Salam Akhi/ukhti,

    May Allah reward you for this advice. It is very important to let people know that they need to stop being loyal to one brand …

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  3. Muna

    “There is just so much to our magnificent religion that can’t be covered in a couple of lectures. We have to go home and research on our own. Investigate the different opinions, learn about the fiqh issues involved, and choose to follow the path we find most plausible.”

    Subhanallah, my thoughts exactly! This issue has been bugging me for a while, the emphasis everyone puts on learning about Islam mainly through halaqat, or lectures is disturbing. Religion, while its has many communal aspects, is at its core a deeply private, spiritual connection with our Creator. No sheikh, no matter how gifted and insightful he may be could ever substitute for the ultimate human experience of reading the Quran alone. I was beginning to forget that – listening to our shuyookh speak about their vision and experience of Islam is always fascinating- but it’s not enough, not even close. Thank you so much for this article.

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  4. Ibn Masood

    FINALLY!!!

    Someone did what had to be done!!!! Alhamdulillah :) Way too many people are like this… WAAAAAY too many

    I have a slight feeling I know who the author is ;)

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  5. Umm Reem

    May Allah azzawajal reward you for your efforts and may Allah azzawjal widespread the knowledge of His deen in this ummah along with the actions…however, I sort of disagree :)

    I don’t see a problem for paying to learn the knowledge of Islam when we don’t mind paying to learn secular knowledge! In fact, I think we facilitate the spreading of the knowledge so that the shayookh who are teaching don’t have to worry about earning to support their families PLUS taking time out to teach Islam. Allahu ‘alam but maybe the early organization/s started off with this idea but too many followed along and gave out the image you speak about…

    And advertising using the marketing techniques…why not? What’s wrong with it?

    Purchasing the religion? I don’t think it is meant to “sell” the religion. I personally remember asking one of the beloved shayookh, who in fact, is a founder of one of the organizations meant to teach Islam, and he explained that his purpose was not to “sell” the religion, rather:

    1. To support those who are teaching by ensuring them a “job”
    2. Making the institution self-sufficient, for he resented the idea of fund raising every other month
    3. To make the students value the knowledge
    how?

    a. no pain no gain — human nature, can’t change it, can we?!
    b. students will feel obliged to attend the entire seminar and not just one or two classes here and there.

    True that in such case, students’ intention or motivation to attend the seminar will not entirely be for the sake of learning knowledge, but who knows, while attending that seminar, being in that company he/she may hear something that will change them, or they make take something from that class that will effect them later in their lives…

    And for that reason, I also don’t see a problem for going to such classes out of peer pressure…it is a good pressure, a positive pressure…while esp. living in west where there is a lot of negative pressure and there is a trend of giving into such pressures, why not use this to take someone along to a class of Islamic knowledge? Even if he/she doesn’t change immediately, or went sincerely for the sake of ‘ilm, at least they spent the time in some positive company, with some positive speech etc. etc.

    As for reading the books at home, in all honesty, those of us who are in a habit of reading books know that we ALL need scholarly guidance. We can very easily read books and misunderstand the content, or not fully grasp the meaning of a hadeeth or an ayah.

    In fact, I find attending these seminars as an Iman boost and a way to motivate myself to read more books, to contemplate more on Qur’an ahadeeth at home…

    What is the traditional learning? Not one scholar of Islam became a scholar except that he/she had teachers and he/she attended classes with that teacher, and to gain that knowledge there were financial expenses involved….

    As for the arousing cult mentality because of such institutions, I don’t think anything positive starts except that some evil goes along with it. It has always happened, it will continue to happen but the good that came from such institutions, IMHO, is far more than the few unpleasant issues, wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam…

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    • ummaasiyah

      Jazakallahu khair, Umm Reem! I wholeheartedly agree. Whilst I’ve always been an avid reader of books, I just could not find ALL the answers to my questions in Islamic books. Sometimes, going to these courses and classes are incredibly beneficial and I agree with every single point that you have made.

      I began attending these courses after I got married (mainly because my parents wouldn’t let me go too far or stay too late for these things cos they were overprotective of their baby daughter, lol :)) and when I attended them with my husband, I became a huge fan of them and I’m always looking to attend any of these courses and lectures where possible. It’s not just because of the fact that for every step a Muslim takes towards gaining Islamic knowledge is rewarded by Allah (a fact that, coincidentally, I learnt at one of organisation x’s courses), but also the atmosphere of learning with your fellow brothers and sisters. You know that you’re gaining authentic knowledge from authentic sources and not just trying to make sense of all this by yourself, resulting in complete misinterpretation and misunderstanding.
      I have been to three of these seminars so far all ranging from 1 day courses to 5 days and each and every one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

      In fact, I must add that one of my dearest friends’ istikhaara was answered by attending a weekend seminar!

      And not to mention that we are supporting Muslim organisations and shuyookh. For every penny spent on gaining knowledge through these institutions, imagine how much reward we are gaining. I don’t mind paying too much for a seminar, when I know that this money is going towards venue hire, food provisions, electrical equipment, software, advertising, etc. The list is endless, but the money paid is worth it.

      I like reading books, but I can only read them if I have the correct understanding of Islam and of the topic that I am reading. I do believe that these seminars should be backed up with further reading, as we do with our secular studies, but by attending such seminars/lectures/courses, we are gaining at LEAST an understanding of a particular topic in Islam.

      The other thing that I might add is that although the conversation between two brothers in the article may exist, I have never experienced something like that. Every topic is important, no matter who teaches it. However, some people like a particular shaykh’s method of teaching or just his personality.

      I, myself, am a bit of a fan of Yasir Qadhi’s teaching (no, it’s not because I’m trying to get on the good side of the MM moderators :D) since I attended one of his seminars in London earlier this year. I don’t hold anything against anyone else, but that’s probably because I’ve been taught by three different teachers. I just have good memories of that seminar too, because I went with a sister with whom I used to work with and we grew closer as a result. See? There’s so many benefits in attending lectures!

      My imaan has boosted as a result of these lectures and I’m always looking for opportunities to attend them, and trying to work them around any other weekend responsibilities. Knowledge for the sake of Allah should be a priority where possible and I believe these institutions are doing a far better job of providing it than I would if I sat down to read a book.

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    • Abd- Allah

      First off, Jazakillah sister Umm Abdullah for the well written and thought provoking article.

      I would like to say though that, in my opinion, the main problem is NOT with paying for Islamic knowledge, but rather it is becoming completely dependent on these lectures and the speakers that give them, whereby we can’t read or even think for ourselves. Maybe that is not the case with some of the students that attend these lectures, but I have seen it happen with many people whom I know attend these seminars, and not only do they not read, but they also shut their minds off and do not think for themselves at all and completely depend on the shuyookh and the seminars. What ends up happening is that these people do nothing in between seminars but wait for the next seminar, and thereby limiting the knowledge they acquire to that which they get from these lectures only. And unfortunately, from what I have seen, this is a majority of those who attend seminars and are not just isolated cases.

      “I think we facilitate the spreading of the knowledge so that the shayookh who are teaching don’t have to worry about earning to support their families PLUS taking time out to teach Islam.”

      Sister Umm Reem, it is great if the shuyookh get paid and therefore take time to teach Islam without worrying about making a living to support their families, but that is not what is actually happening in reality. We rarely see them teaching Islamic knowledge for free at places other than their paid seminars and lectures. Sure they give a khutbah here and a lecture there for free, but it is usually a general talk that does not have a lot of actual knowledge in it like it would if it was one of their lectures in a paid seminar. Unfortunately, the way these institutions have become like an exclusive club where you need to be a member to have access to the knowledge and to the shuyookh. Most people who do belong to one of these institutions and attend their seminars will not be able to see what I am saying, because you have to be an “outsider” to actually see my point.

      Allah knows best.

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      • ummaasiyah

        Um, I’m not much of a member, even though I have attended these seminars. I don’t know where the exclusivity part has come from and you really don’t need to ‘belong’. I was never a member before and I don’t think these organisations require membership or some sort of exclusivity. My sister has never attended any of these, except for one just before Ramadan upon my insistence. She would like to attend more in the future, insha’Allah, because the knowledge is right there from a shaykh who understands issues of being Muslim in the West and can answer your questions.

        Insha’Allah, I plan to bring my eldest sister to the next one I attend.

        As for the ‘generality’ of the khutbahs, it is due to time constraints that they cannot focus on a whole topic, but in fact have to pick out the most important area of focus. And honestly, I think it’s unfair, if not sinful, to say that these small snippets of knowledge don’t have a lot of ‘actual knowledge’. I have learnt a lot in a half an hour talk than I have from reading a book in half an hour. It also boosts my imaan.

        Brothers and sisters, first things first, we should all agree to disagree on this matter. I am not going to put down getting knowledge from a book, because I do believe that that’s what books are for…knowledge, and I have gained a great deal from them. But please don’t put down these organisations and institutions who have so many people working for them, using any spare time they have to ensure that these lectures and seminars run smoothly on the day. Many people don’t understand the amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into ensuring that they are a happy and unforgettable experience for everyone, not to mention that the notes have to be proofread several times to ensure the authenticity of the knowledge, the photocopying of these notes and putting them into binders and booklets, creating name tags for all attendees, setting up the audio-visual equipment, ensuring that everything is running on time, providing food and water. Imagine if you were part of all that, and then someone is putting these seminars down or picking out bad points. How bad will it make those volunteers feel? And then for the shuyookh who spend so much time psyching themselves up to speak in front of hundreds of students whom they have never met before, some who may challenge them with questions, the travelling that they have to, the time they spend away from their families trying to deliver this knowledge and the fatigue they suffer at the end of it all! Its hard work! Please be careful in what you say, because some of the people who read this are volunteers for these organisations and words against their hard work will hurt.

        Rant over.

        Jazakallahu khair.

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    • Amir

      I think that’s what the writer is saying. I don’t think she’s advocating “relying solely on books” to attain your knowledge. She also advocated going to the teachers to make sure your questions are answered, so you are guided, etc.

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  6. Amatullah

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran to the author.

    I don’t agree wholeheartedly, but I also don’t disagree.

    It’s actually encouraged to learn more from a person/teacher than on your own/only from books but in general, we should return back to reading and learning how to properly study on the side.

    We must also realize that the majority of those who go to seminars are just learning what is required of them for their deen and are not serious students who are going to go home and study Al Muwatta.

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  7. Sami

    JazakAllahu khayran akhee (or ukhtee). This is an excellent article.

    It also seems that there is just an obsession with knoweldge for the sake of learning. It is as if Allah (azza wa jal) says Inna akramakum 3inda Allahi a3lamakum and not atqakum

    Practice what you learn- focus on priorities.

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  8. Habibi Halaqas

    Jazzak Allah khair to the brother/sister who wrote this article !

    I am sure this article was meant with best of intentions but it sounds like an emotional response and many things seem to have been ignored.

    My question today is why has our primary route for gaining knowledge of Islam become through classes, conferences, and seminars? Anyone hitch a ride to a Masjid or pay a hundred bucks to attend a class, but not just anyone can and does crack open a book of knowledge. We begin to rely on someone to stand and talk to us. We wait for the knowledge to come to us, we don’t go to it.

    Not everyone is inclined to opening Islamic books. One of the major reasons for this is that it could seem daunting if the person has no idea what the book is talking about in the first place. Also, like Umm Reem said the book can be easily misinterpreted or a person may not understand what angle the author is coming from. Take Sahih Bukhari for example. It is not hard to read a few hadiths a day but how many of us know understand Imam Bukhari’s chapter headings or the wisdom of certain hadiths being in that chapter. To a layman the book can come across as being “randomly” organized.

    Going to these sessions gives you a basic idea of what these books may contain. You are also able to find out what books are authentic and trustworthy. These sessions are not sole sources of knowledge. Going back home and picking up a book is definitely a must so you can get a better understanding of the topic because like the author said…not everything can be covered in few hours of a lecture. But these lectures are good for people who have no inclination to read but may get interested in reading a book when they hear about a certain topic.

    —-

    Such muslim gatherings are necessary to create bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. You also benefit from the akhlaq of other muslims and the shuyukh !

    and remember the hadith of the person who was passing by a halaqa and sat down just to see what was going on … Allah forgave his sins too ! … if you can enroll yourself for a weekend or an evening of learning…I’d say do it ! b/c I doubt you will be spending that entire time in learning.

    When Imam An-Nawawi was studying Islam, he had stacks of books towering up to the ceiling of his room!

    and Imam Nawawi would also attend/teach MULTIPLE halaqat in his day.

    Once again, like Umm Reem said…we cannot forget the importance of learning directly under the shuyukh. Its already not as traditional in North America as it is in Middle East ! … Whats more .. is that you get to learn from their teaching styles (so you can pass on the knowledge to others) and you also get a chance to ask questions.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s analysis inshAllah :)

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  9. zeyadram

    bismillah,

    It’s not about putting a price tag on knowledge because the knowledge belongs to Allah swt and with books, the Internet, youtube you can find any of the knowledge for free.

    I think before going to any seminar, classes that we are paying for that we understand we are not paying for the knowledge we are paying for what we will do with the knowledge.

    I see these classes as an investment in myself and my akhirah. I want to gain profit from the investment so that requires I DO something with the knowledge so it results in positive actions in my life rather than just making the goal the seeking of the knowledge.

    Rather than make my intention to memorize all the knowledge that comes from the class, one thing I’ve found beneficial is actually sitting down before each class and asking myself what are three practical things I would like to change/improve in my life and in the seminar I am actively stacking up the various ahadeeth, ayaat, sayings of our scholars to support me in my desired change/action.

    Otherwise you are stacking up knowledge on your back and doing nothing with it.

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  10. ibnmasood

    The article was good, but I was with you until those last three paragraphs…

    The Quran was not revealed as a physical book that just appeared all of a sudden from the heavens. It came with a teacher, our Messenger Muhammad (saw). Neither did Islam spread by just passing around physical copies of the Quran. The companions and the following generations were so successful at spreading the message because they exemplified the teachings of the Quran and the example of the Prophet (saw), i.e. the Sunnah. So, to make sure you understand what you’re reading, you have to see how the inheritors of the Prophets (peace be upon them all), i.e. the scholars are understanding and implementing that text.

    For example, reading that you should lower your gaze in front of a lady is a great thing to learn from the books. But how can we practice it? Some zealot can take this verse from the Quran and be jumpy to lower their gaze and never look at a woman, being rude and gruff. Another man, from learning how the scholars observed humbleness and respect in the manner they lowered their gaze, thereby giving the lady esteem and honor, was better able to follow the Quran and Sunnah in its application.

    This is why you shouldn’t call for people to go start reading books of knowledge on their own. Yes, independent study is good, but you need knowledgeable people to put it all into perspective and guide us on the balanced way of our Prophet (saw). Otherwise, there is danger from people just reading their own interpretations out of books and running amok with them.

    May Allah (swt) protect us from misguidance and bless you brother for inspiring us to become more serious students of knowledge, who don’t seek it for entertainment but for the sake of Allah (swt) alone.

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  11. Atif

    Assalamu’alaykum
    I think the author’s main point is that between all the classes, seminars, lectures, there needs to be independent studying with books and review sessions, etc. This way the student can have more detailed knowledge and also slowly apply what they learn. I wholeheartedly agree.
    The next discussion should address why this is. The issue is that students don’t have the discipline, sense of priority and time to study in-between classes. Another issue is, while reading the books, questions arise, and sometimes there is no one easily accessible to answer them. I hope these issues are addressed in a future article.

    One thing I disagree with though:

    Knowledge of Islam became all about Organization X and Shaykh A and Shaykh B.

    And the problem is?
    Islamic knowledge has always been about studying from illustrious personalities. If you had the opportunity to sit in a gathering with Sh. ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rh) would you care about what the topic was?
    Now granted, the scholars that teach are not at the level of Sh. ibn ‘Uthaymeen, or maybe even the level of a PhD. So what?
    In the West (depending on where you are), we don’t have an imam in all our masajid, let alone access to someone who has studied 6-10 years in an Islamic university. So if we do get an opportunity to learn from someone who has spent 6 years in a university, we’ll get excited about because that’s all we have access to.
    Is it unfortunate that’s all we have? Maybe.
    I just think it’s very unreasonable to insist on studying from PhDs, when there’s such a shortage of scholarship in the first place.

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    • Calcutta Express

      No, the author pretty much said we don’t need lectures. We just need books. Most of the people I know who say things like that don’t care much about the religion. They don’t end up reading any books. They don’t end up learning anything. Those who go to the lectures are usually the one’s who have the thirst for knowledge. They are usually the one’s who read books afterward.

      If you want to be honest with yourself then that is the truth.

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    • Ibn Masood

      Walaikumassalam

      I think you’re one of the few to understand what the core message of this article was. It’s not to completely shove away lectures and classes, as shown here:

      My question today is why has our primary route for gaining knowledge of Islam become through classes, conferences, and seminars?

      Lectures, speeches, lectures, speeches, lectures, speeches. They never end and we should be grateful. We are. But since when did this become our main source of attaining Islamic knowledge?

      Most people seemed to have missed the point of the article. Its not a critique of classes, lectures or learning with Shuyukh, its a critique of the seminar/conference culture that has developed in NA. And since this is only part 1 of 3, I think this will be clarified further.

      While we’re on the books topic: In all honesty the most serious and well-developed students of knowledge I have seen in NA are not those who only attend seminars/conferences but also proactively read books upon books of material. And by books I don’t mean Sahih Bukhari, Riyaad As-Saliheen or Aqeedatil-Wasitiyyah etc, You DEFINITELY need a shaykh to study those. I mean the books that are meant for an English-speaking audience such as Ulum-ul-Qur’an by Sheikh YQ, Usul-ul-Fiqh by Hisham Kamali, and the Creed Series by Umar al-Ashqar, just to name a few. These are books that are conceptual in nature and relatively easy to understand, you won’t need a Shaykh to help you much until you reach some difficult concepts or conflicts in understanding. But you won’t find most of the seminar/conference-going crowd reading them. And just in case we do get stuck, there are many people of knowledge available to answer questions in our masajid and communities alhamdulillah.

      Let us look past the Shuyukh we see on youtube and www. I personally know of some AMAZING scholars that in my opinion surpass most if not all (ikhtilaaf on this issue :) ) of the institute shuyukh, yet they are simply Imams of masajid or running small things on the side. One prime example of this is a shaykh who has only recently come to prominence: Shaykh Uthman from Shatibiyyah institute. He’s been there for ages doing hifdh programs for youth but no one except for people in Missisauga, Canada knew about him.

      Granted, seminars/conferences are amazing venues to seek knowledge and bring a lot of benefit to the masses, however the knowledge contained in these is very limited.

      I think what this article is really trying to get at the heart of, is the necessity of a proactive approach to seeking knowledge. That you don’t just wait for that conference or seminar on October 17th, but you take steps to learn on your own and make serious learning a part of your everyday life, and in this case the medium is books. Learning not just to increase your emaan or cry because of an emotional lecture, but become Islamic intellectuals and academics ourselves.

      I loved this article, is necessitates us asking our own selves some basic questions, like “Has learning Islam amongst religious youth in NA simply become a culture instead of an intellectual mission?”

      WAllahu Alam. My 2 halalas.

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    • Ibn Masood

      Bro it’s not so black and white, please read Usul Al-Hadeeth by Bilal Philips… this was not always the case. Books were almost always involved. The biography of Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani (rah) -just one example that I can think of right now- is also a good reminder of the importance of books in the legacy of Islamic knowledge. A few contemporary examples of scholars who read TONS of books are Shaykh Salman Al-Oadah and Shaykh Dido As-Shanqeeti. Heard about their reading habits from Sheikh Waleed Basyouni and Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury respectively.

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  12. D.D.

    Assalamu alaikum,

    This seems to be another overly-simplified article. I mean, the part about all the hype and marketing of classes is so true. But it doesn’t mean to go to the extreme and say that we shouldn’t rely heavily on the scholars to teach us.

    Islam is a deen of wasat–balance. Remember, the companions and the generation after them relied very heavily on oral transmission and not on books. Then when the innovations started to creep into the religion, there became a more urgent need for written transmission.

    Now, we are in an age where we have access to all sorts of books, articles, etc. A layperson is simply not equipped with the knowledge to differentiate entirely between what is right and what is wrong. Herein lies the need for teachers. Not to mention, only by observing your teacher do you truly learn the proper akhlaaq.

    With that said, I agree that there is too much hype surrounding certain organizations.( May Allah reward them for the good they bring, ameen. ) Seeking knowledge is a humbling experience, not one that should make you hyperactive and super excited. To be honest, this student culture is precisely why I am turned off from going to the classes of these organizations. It’s mostly youth with a lot of energy but unfortunately it’s channeled in the wrong way. Alhamdulilah I have found other organizations that are more serious and the focus is truly on the knowledge.

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    • ukhtee

      Wa alaykum as-salaam ukhtee,

      I wholeheartedly agree with you. There needs to be a focus on knowledge. In fact, my teachers in many seminars have said: “if you want to learn, read. if you want to give da’wah, just talk.” They encourage us to have time daily in the morning to read Qur’an – early scholars like ibn Taymiyyah (rah) called this their “daily breakfast”!

      However, I am curious to know, what about the youth culture puts you off?

      I know sometimes there’s too much hype, but some youth really need alternatives BAD. They have pressure from friends, family, school, negative youth culture in the West and they want to have a good time/have fun too. Not everyone comes for the knowledge 100% and I think it’s a bit too much to ask that of every single person. Rather, I agree that being with people of good character, and remembering we are coming for Allah is important.

      What I benefited from most in this article was that we need to ponder and self-examine our intentions behind attending certain classes, seminars, institutions, and make sure we have some time to study on our own too. It shouldn’t all be about the #’s and hype (though that makes it a bit exciting for some Muslims who might otherwise have boring lives ;))– true that– and we should appreciate small things too like: if someone learns to pray, says their shahaada or if we decide to stop taking riba loans, we appreciate that and say Alhamdulillah.

      Allah knows best of course!

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      • D.D.

        Assalamu alaikum,

        All I mean is the environment is just not for me. When I learn, I want to be in a serious environment where the focus is on the knowledge. The hyper-activity throws me off and I feel is a form of disrespect to the knowledge. But that is just my preference. I can’t imagine why anyone should come for anything else except for that and the company of righteous. Other than that, I don’t know what other reasons would be for Allah’s sake.

        Like I said, these organizations do a lot of good and may Allah reward them for that. The fact that they are teaching correct aqeedah and fiqh and bringing that to the masses is great in and of itself.

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  13. Siraaj

    I believe the point of the article is the following:

    My question today is why has our primary route for gaining knowledge of Islam become through classes, conferences, and seminars? Anyone hitch a ride to a Masjid or pay a hundred bucks to attend a class, but not just anyone can and does crack open a book of knowledge. We begin to rely on someone to stand and talk to us. We wait for the knowledge to come to us, we don’t go to it.

    1. There was a time when no one was attending the halaqahs OR reading books. Someone decided to address the halaqah aspect of it, so people are now coming to those seminars, classes, etc. Maybe someone else ought to address the book aspect of it? Before seminars, I used to read books all the time and upon later reflection found that translations of books by our great scholars were colored by the translator’s biases and had an impact on my own khuluq. It wasn’t til I found those paid seminars that that changed drastically. One cannot underestimate the impact of a great mentor to steer you in the right direction.

    2. Um, when you attend a class, you go to the knowledge, the knowledge doesn’t come to you in that format either. In either case, there is a teacher, they’ve chosen a format of presentation, and it’s up to you to digest said information, whether from a book (which you have to pay for, by the way), a halaqah, or a seminar.

    3. Lastly, knowledge and khayr is always paid for in our communities, we only realize it when it comes out of our own pockets. Your masjid and that imam’s salary? Paid for by the richest members of your community along with support with the middle class members of the community. Your Islamic seminars and classes? Paid for by you. What changes with this model is that instead of the halaqahs by your imam, paid for by the community, or what other orgs do, getting donations from rich people, is that the burden is shifted to the student of knowledge.

    As a side note, it’s interesting to see how students of knowledge and their demeanor changes when they have to pay for something – in a masjid, the people not paying for anything complain about those running the masjid, and the rules they set, but when people start putting in their own money into projects, they feel the pinch and start wanting higher quality standards themselves. Just an interesting observation while on the topic of money and Islam…

    Siraaj

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  14. Striver

    I recall before I got interested in going to seminars, lectures and conferences I actually used to purchase books and read them. Now I don’t even have time to read books because there are classes and halaqas everywhere you go, and you just don’t see the point in reading anymore. This is sad but true, we need to find a balance for both. But there are too many seminars nowadays and because all of your friends are attending them you feel as if your obliged to go, and to be honest alot of them are quite expensive.

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  15. Ali

    Appreciating the very different point of view, but I’m not sure that I agree with this article.

    The point I could partially agree with is that people go for the sake of the speaker, shaykh, friends, organisation rather than the learning of Islam.

    But even then, isn’t it better for them to ‘chill out’ around muslims and certain organisations and pick up only 5%… than to not go at all?

    As a young muslim, I could guarantee that I pick up more from a lecture books, as I find it difficult to pick up a book and read from cover to cover. If my friends were to go to a event this would encourage me towards the right direction…

    “All other Muslims who feel a little pushed away from these cliques don’t dare to enter an X event and therefore walk away from X with a bad impression…” – Umm Abdullah

    Maybe I’m not gettin this but feeling pushed away because of regulars attending the course? I would have thought meeting new people and breaking barriers was part of the event, if not forget the cliques and just enter to learn on your own.

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  16. Farhan

    as-salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmat Allahi wa baraktahu

    With respect, I don’t agree with this article. Some people prefer books, some people prefer having someone talk to them. Its all a matter of personal preference. I can learn math from a book, but its easier for me to learn Islam from a person.

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  17. Nadia

    Maybe the author was probably trying to say that there is more to islam than just halaqas and lectures? I am going to be honest, i know some people who have attended every almaghrib class held in their city but sadly i have never seen them pick up the book of Allah, even in ramadan! May Allah guide them. It may be an isolated case… but i’m sure there are people who just attend for the sake of giving company to their family and friends.

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      • Noor Syed

        Perhaps they’ve been taking every single Tafseer class. All the AlMaghrib Tafseer seminars at least finish a Juz.

        How cool is that? The person who never used to pick up the Qur’an…finishes one whole Juz over two weekends. Not just reading…translation and tafseer included, ma sha Allah.

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      • Ibn Masood

        Bro separate discussion from the one going on here but those classes are VERY introductory and basic in nature. They’re more tazkiyyah/story based rather than academic. For the person who takes study seriously they offer little benefit apart from the reminders.

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      • Atif

        Depends on which class you take, some of them can be quite detailed. Even if it is “introductory”, that’s good enough detail for the average muslim.

        A few of the classes such as Fiqh of Food and Clothing, and Tawheed al-Asmaa wal-Sifaat, there is very little material available in English books.

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      • ukhtee

        again not every needs the same thing. Hamza (radhiAllaahu anhu) became Muslim right away, ‘Umar (radhiAllaahu anhu) needed a different kind of push- seeing the blood on his sister’s face, Abu Bakr (radhiAllaahu anhu) didn’t even think twice.

        Result we are seeking: pleasure of Allah, needs to be kept in mind. Jannah= ultimate goal inshaaAllah.

        In the process, we might get there through stories, we might be motivated through fiqh analyses, through studying hadith compilation…….etc. Different things increase different peoples’ eemans, wallaahu a’lam

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      • Ibn Malik

        Institutes are for a particular audience, certain classes are for the laymen. Agreed institutes should not say that this course is for example at a university level etc. because to be honest most of it is basic.

        However if you take a look at the vision of the institute and their vision for example its for the laymen, to bring them back to Islam and get interested in gaining knowledge.

        Yes, sometimes people overhype classes and say this is ‘THE DEFINITIVE compilation’ or the best course in English on a specific matter, it combines all the info, the Shaykh has studied X books and compiled ALL the info into this course, however this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The material is for a specific audience and that is what everyone is forgetting these conferences, seminars and halaqahs are VERY BROAD for a reason.

        These are meant to get that thirst going, in the end the real knowledge lies in private sessions with a Shaykh and even that the real knowledge is using texts in Arabic.

        WAllahu ta’alaa Alam.

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    • ibnabeeomar

      the scenario you describe may very well be true, but is that a shortcoming of a particular institute, or is it a shortcoming in the person?

      i would venture to say their relationship with the quran was probably weak before taking any almaghrib classes as well.

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      • Dawud Israel

        “the scenario you describe may very well be true, but is that a shortcoming of a particular institute, or is it a shortcoming in the person?”

        With that sort of mindset–those institutes wouldn’t have begun in the first place…its a community responsibility, no?

        I think we need to think, “OK our institute has done great…where do we go from here? Continue with more of the same or try something new? Have it achieved what we set out to do?”

        Lets be strategic.

        At the same time, the solution to our condition is not any one single institute or any one method…its going to be a bunch of different things working together.

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  18. Huddi

    SA,

    I definetly agree with your argument to some extent, and it is true for some people. But how many of us actually do read, or spend some of our time learning by ourselves. Learning in a group setting is a lot more motivating for most ppl. The people that do go to these events, and are really sincere in learning Islamic knowledge end up having to learn by themselves anyways, because there so much more knowledge out there in books. Also, look how the sahaabah like Abu Huraira etc., stuck with the Prophet (SAW) to gain knowledge. It is important to also learn from people who are more knowledgeable than us, specially when we have questions that come up when we do our own knowledge seeking. But definetly, reading is very, very important too. This is a Balanced Ummah, so I think we should do a bit of both, knowledge seeking by ourselves, and also in group settings.

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  19. mcpagal

    I agree with the article to some extent, but it’s kind of ironic to have an article criticising the advertising of islamic products, surrounded by, well, adverts for islamic products.

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  20. shoaib

    mashallah cool article, except the bit about books….the salaf radhiAllahu anhum never learned that way

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  21. Huddi

    SA,

    But I do agree, that shoving Islamic knowledge down’s ppl throats is wrong. There’s a fine line between marketing and overdoing it. May Allah help us find it, and act upon it.

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  22. Olivia

    Someone already mentioned it, but the student attending the shaykh’s lecture was the norm in our religion for hundreds of years, because the printing press wasn’t invent until, like, a hundred years ago.

    People have different learning styles and also time restrictions.

    Also, to be honest, I’m catching some other currents swirling in with this sentiment of “why don’t we read more?”. Those other currents seem to be some sort of distrust of these organizations or personal distaste for their marketing styles or their dislike for paying for knowledge. These are totally separate issues from encouraging people to read more. In short, there’s a lot of beef in this article.

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  23. abu nabeeha

    I respectfully disagree.
    I have a reason to do so.
    Earlier in my life, I was known for reading lot of (authentic) books. But unfortunately, I regret a lot know, because I barely sat with a shuyookh to learn them. As a result my personality became unpleasant, & I regret doing things that I did. I regret for not handling things wisely – something that you get when you study with shuyookh.

    One of the shk.Yasirs said exactly the same thing, in ilmsummit I believe – you must study under shuyookh to get the right context.

    Wallahu aalam

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    • ukhtee

      I was like that too. I was way stricter, harsh, had bad manners.

      One thing I love is that adab is always taught first (or should be).

      SubhanAllah, check out — Etiquettes of Seeking Knowledge by shaykh Bakr Aboo Zaid. Amazing!

      We all can relate to things like : arrogance, envy, how to convey the knowledge, manner of studying, manner of respecting one’s teacher, treating differences of opinion.

      The more you get the HUMAN level and see shuyookh interacting with each other, you become SOOOO at peace and **tolerant** of different opinions.

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  24. IbnAbbas

    I fully agree with the article. Jazakillahu Khairan!

    It was one of the reasons why I stopped going to these cla$$e$! anymore. you’re so right about the advertisement, yes it seems as if the whole i’lm is for sale the way they’re advertised these days. wAllaho A’lam.

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  25. SaqibSaab

    Solid set of points I can agree with, especially as an Ameer of Chicag’s AlMaghrib chapter, Qabeelat Wasat. We try to focus not just on the fact that it’s not just about AlMaghrib obsession, but (1) learning by other means in Chicago and (2) giving back to the community instead of taking a bazillion classes and not benefiting others with it making you look like a cult member.

    One thing that the author could have expanded on more to strengthen the article (and further substantiate its well-done intro) was to focus on the groupie mentality, and why it’s a problem. With the focus set on the tradtional vs. the institute/personality issue, one may be left asking, “so how should I market the institute I’m a part of?”

    But alhamdulillah tomorrow or Monday’s articles should be addressing the issue inshaAllah.

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  26. adimeforyourtime

    i can rant about the arrogant and cult-ish nature of these institutes. and i can complain about how overcharging students under the guise of creating ‘value’ is a bunch of crock.

    but what good would that do?

    seriously… this article would have been much better if it included a list of books that people can read if they are interested in studying islam on their own.

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    • adimeforyourtime

      looks like i ruffled a few feathers. not my intention. i didn’t mean to make a blanket statement. i attend these lectures and conferences and benefit from them. i also read books.

      it’s just the ‘whiney’ impression i got from the article and the comments. i would have liked a list of books instead.

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      • Ibn Malik

        Read:

        The Book of Knowledge by Sh. Uthaymeen rahimuAllah, it contains quite a good list of books to read etc.

        its available in the English language, 2 or 3 volumes

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  27. Voyageure

    I see how they author is trying to make a point about ‘blindly following’ organizations and shuyookh and not be serious about studying Islam. A student can build up on their knowledge gained FROM the halaqahs/seminars/classes by reading books, but cannot gain knowledge from the books by simply reading them!
    Therefore, I disagree about taking knowledge from the books, just because books cannot teach us everything.
    1) If a person studies with a shaykh, they save themselves a lot of time. In Fiqh, instead of reading numerous books to find out all the opinions, a person studying with a teacher can find out all the rulings within minutes. Now that’s a good deal.
    2) A person studying from a book (this doesn’t go for topics you have knowledge of) has shaytaan as his teacher. Can you just understand the Quraan by reading the tafseer on the side of it? You need someone to explain to you, and not rely on your own understanding of it. This can really mess you up and your understanding of the religion.
    3) I used to enjoy reading hadeeth from the hadeeth collection I have, UNTIL I got a taste of studying those simple ahadeeth with a teacher. Sister, on reference of reading books, don’t you just appreciate Bulugh al Muraam that has the commentary of hadeeth at the bottom? Where do you think the author got that from? By studying with a teacher!This is the beauty of our religion, the miracle of our religion that things RasulAllaah alayhim salaatu wa salaam said, and his companions taught get passed down to us through the shuyookh! Things that you cannot find in the books.
    And ofcourse as someone else mentioned, you definitely cannot learn akhlaaq from the books – you can only learn those by studying with a teacher who is qualified.

    WaAllaahu ta’ala ‘Alem. I did not mean to counterproduce the arguments, but it is necessary to keep a balance while learning between books and attending classes. You need a little bit of both to excel.

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  28. AbuUmar

    as salamu`alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

    Before I begin, I’d like to apologize about my tone in this rant. SubhanAllah, I’m quite worried about the possible impact an article might have.

    The problem with these kind of articles is that it doesn’t really weigh the impact it’s going to have on a wider community. You have no idea how this article is going to be used and twisted [think: Umar Lee’s article on the salafis]….and most likely, as is blatantly apparent from the comments, it’ll be applied to one or two institutes who do their seminar in the weekend format.

    Profile assumption: This sister, Umm Abdullah, is probably really knowledgeable and has been studying Islam from books and shuyukh for a long time (say 12+ years?). She’s what you’d consider, “a serious student of knowledge”. All of a sudden in the last few years, she’s has seen these young teenage or early 20s sisters who are really excited about taking classes and probably rubbed her shoulder the wrong way by pushing her to attend classes by Shuyukh who are probably her age or younger. That has probably what has caused her to write this post. She has a certain picture of how Islamic knowledge should be taught and this hyped up model is just not fitting into her frame of reference.

    My advice to the sister is:
    * this venting should have been directed to the people who are running these organizations [national and local reps] and raising your concerns with them rather than broadcasting it on one of the most popular Islamic Blog.
    * I’d say, 5% of the Muslim Youth are actually “practicing”. Probably 1% attend these classes. And I’d say, probably 0.05% of Muslim Youth actually read books. By attacking this small population, this article might impact this percentage in a further negative way.
    * Now imagine this scenario: A young brother or a sister is distributing fliers for their seminar after Jumuah [taking time off from work or school to benefit others] and he brings his hand forward to hand the flier off to his fellow Muslim and instead of the brother accepting it or politely refusing to accept the flier, he/she considers the flier a “burden” and smirks at this young Muslim; he/she conjures up an image of this young brother painted by this article. SubhanAllah, who knows, the person refusing the flier is the one more in need of this seminar than the one who is giving?
    * Sr Umm Abdullah, I’m not sure whether you have ever done marketing outside the masjid for classes or not. 60% of the Muslims actually refuse to even accept the fliers that are handed out, and of those I’d say majority don’t even look at you or return your salam.
    * Once I was standing with a wonderful and a very dear Mexican revert brother [who recently became a Muslim in the prison] handing out fliers for one of the seminars and when we met after the distribution, I could see his face was red with anger and he looked really upset. I inquired about the reason for him being upset and he said, “SubhanAllah akhi, these people don’t even give the Salaam back to me”.
    * On another occasion, I was handing out fliers for one of the fiqh courses in my community and afterwards I was standing in line (chai was being served) and I saw 3 brothers in front of me, one of them was a “traditional” speaker who actually spoke at the event, and they were reading the back of the flier and making fun of it. Just because a particular section of the community is being targeted by the way the “marketing” is written.. to attract them to attend a class that can possibly bring a person closer to Allah does not deserve a disdainful attitude. I fear that would even border arrogance, May Allah protect us from that.
    * In general, Muslims do NOT read even SECULAR books, let alone religious (practicing or non-practicing)! This is a wider problem that needs to be addressed, not just Muslims in US but in the whole Islamic world. SubhanAllah, this is one thing I really admire about the American culture that they’re knee deep in their book reading. We need to revive that no doubt, but not at the cost of discrediting efforts that are being made to address a certain segment of the Muslim community. Even if you see those who have reverted to Islam, you’ll see mashaAllah they’re all “bookaholics”. Whether it’s Hamza Yusuf, Sh Jamal Z, Sh Suhaib, Imam Zaid, Sh Bilal Philips etc. MashaAllah they’re constantly reading for those that know them closely….
    * AlHamdulillah, we have been forbidden from attending Musical Concerts, events where Alcohol is being served [which would mean most sports events], comedy events where lies are made to make people laugh etc….So EVEN if these seminars are providing “entertainment” for these youth, I don’t see any harm in it. Maybe they’ll come out with learning perhaps ONE verse and as the Prophet (saw) said, “بلغوا عني ولو آية” — will be accomplished.
    * In the end, Wallahi, I agree that there are inherent problems with the way some of the institutes are run and some of the policies/priorities of these organizations, btw this includes ALL sides, including those who consider themselves “traditional”. But this forum is neither the place or the forum to address these concerns.

    I admit I’m guilty of not reading books that I have on my shelf but that’s not at all because of the seminars I attend. I seek Allah’s forgiveness firstly and then yours for anything wrong that I have said.

    Jazakumullahu Khairan
    wassalam

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  29. Nazihah

    Assalaamu’alaikum,

    Hmmm…

    Before I was exposed to this genre of knowledge-seeking, quite honestly, it never even crossed my mind to pick up a book of knowledge and read it.

    Knowledge as I knew it, came from sunday school books and my parents…and of course my local translation of the Qur’an. The crisis came upon entering college. Sunday school curriculum came to a close, and when I found myself in Islamic bookstores, I was too overwhelmed to know where to begin in my search of knowledge, and found myself leaning towards giving up rather than submerging myself in a sea of books.

    After I took a couple of seminars with a particular organization, my perspective on knowledge changed. My outlook on life changed. Why is that important? because thereafter, I finally had role-models in my own times to follow.

    So, if I never went to such types of seminars, my thirst for knowledge might never have begun. If it never initiated, then I would never have found the tawfeeq to pick up a book of knowledge.
    What good would that do me?
    SO MANY people have changed their lifestyles because of these seminars and institutes. Why? because these institutes represent IDEAS. IDEAS are stronger than just books. Especially in modern times, where less people are inclined to pick up books, changing the way PEOPLE THINK will get more people on the bandwagon of ISLAM.

    I thought that is what our goal is–more da’wah to more people….NO?

    And FROM THERE, our thirst for knowledge should grow. After some advice and guidance from our teachers, we now have a roadmap, a direction. We’ll know what books to pick up, what thoughts to ponder on, how to improve ourselves, our families, our communities, etc.

    In the end, Allah gives us knowledge and He, Azza wa Jal, also gives some of us wisdom.

    In my opinion, it would be very hard to seek wisdom if we didn’t seek advice from real people who have gone through real experiences. We most likely won’t be wiser if we don’t learn from our own personal experiences, AS WELL as those around us.

    A person with knowledge AND wisdom, in my opinion, makes better decisions

    Allah knows best

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  30. ibnabeeomar

    judging by the polygamy article earlier this week, perhaps one big roadblock that needs to be addressed is why people are more passionate about hypothetical second wife scenarios than they are about seeking knowledge? :)

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  31. Dawud Israel

    Ma sha Allah- my respect for this website just went up! Good to see we have some independent thinkers here, not afraid to spit the truth. Jazaka Allahu khayran.

    This irks me too. I was talking to the owner of ICNA Islamic bookstore in Toronto (massive bookstore, ma sha Allah la quwatta illah billah!) and he mentioned how sales (profits?) have dropped by almost 50% because no one reads about Islam anymore. They go online or to courses, which has its pluses but long-term its a bad thing (if we ignore the books) because if we want an Islamic university or want to get in the big conversations of our time…we gotta read LOTS. I really cannot help but look down at people who blindly follow others and remain stranded in parochialism and ghettoized conceptions of Islam taken from the Internet…all of which the end result is little different from the primitive understandings of Islam you see in the villages back home- same exploitation of naive religious beliefs and ignorance. Thats really what we are looking at here.

    I can mention a number of quotations I have come across that mention near the end of time, people will “sell their deen” or “use the deen for profit in this world”. I’ll come back and post them here later, insha Allah. I’ve mentioned this to some others on the Sufi side of the fence, and I got a general shoulder shrug. The scholars don’t want to talk about it. And as far as I am concerned, thats fine, but mixing money and Islam is one reason why our emaan is weak and why our dawah is weak too.

    What happened to the poor fuqara? The ascetic zuhd of the Sahabas? Somehow poverty is gonzo? We live like kings. Remember the hadith, “If you love me, then prepare for poverty” (paraphrased)…so I just wonder about these things. I think this is why we are suffering, how many shuyookh are real authentic to the extent they are ready to sacrifice…all of it? Its hard for me to take someone seriously when they drive a BMW or use their popularity cult for their own profit. I’m not saying its “wrong” for scholars to live decently- some of the Sahabas were rich at times and at other times totally poor…what I think is its not ideal for money and Islam to mix: “Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves), and who are rightly guided. (Quran, Surah Yasin, 21) If you go back home, most of the aalims don’t need to work, nor are they paid by the masjids nor do they charge for their teaching– they live off of the countless gifts the Muslim give them out of such high respect and love for these ulema. Maybe if we treated our shaykhs like that, it would be different? Actually, that is historically one reason why the scholars started dressing nicely- so that it reflected a dignity of the religion, and so they wouldn’t be looked down upon for being poor…

    I think its great all the work our institutes have done. I think it was and will be needed for them to continue. But they should realize theirs isn’t the only way- the argument about people taking Islam seriously when they pay for a course is true, but not always true. Once you’ve brought them into the system and the whole deen-addiction, do you need to keep making them pay for Islam? Maybe they could use that money to help our poor brothers and sisters around the world instead? I do think, now its about time we start looking at offering free or cheaper courses, establishing reading circles and discussing Islamic literature and not babying each other. Lets support our bookstores. Lets establish journals and magazines. Too many Islamic magazines die out and flop and we need to give dignity to our writing, to our ideas. The internet isn’t good enough for Islamic writing- its degrading to the deen to see so much argumentation and belittling. Too many awesome Islamic endeavors have died simply because of lack of donations, and because they didn’t have the mega-fame our shaykhs have now. How can you compete with the fame these shaykhs command? And then, even when there is so much hype around them- its not always easy to turn that fame into good for the community (the weak donations for Imam Siraj Wahaj’s health bills for example).

    Also, reading is important because a large number of us are university educated so its about time we got past the “return to the basics” mentality that gives us an elementary school level education of Islam. I relent the fact we take our deen from Orientalists and kaafir scholars of Islam whose ideas are usually more beneficial than those of many of our scholars…I’m sure many others feel the same dismay. The only intellectual Islamic website I know of is: http://www.altranslators.com/bg/

    I ask forgiveness for offending anyone- its important to be honest and clear. May Allah bless all our scholars, brothers and sisters who have noble intentions and may Allah increase their rank in knowledge and their rank in Jannah, Ameen.

    Baraka Allahu feek.
    -Dawud

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    • Dawud Israel

      EDIT: I relent the fact we take our deen from Orientalists and non-Muslim scholars of Islam whose ideas are usually more beneficial than those of many of our own Muslim scholars…I’m sure many others feel the same dismay. The only intellectual Islamic website I know of, run by Muslim scholarship is: http://www.altranslators.com/bg/

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  32. Dawud Israel

    Food for thought: Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah)’s halaqa started out with 3 people. No big mega events or big super-courses.

    And just look at his dawah now… :)

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    • Siraaj Muhammad

      Salaam alaykum Dawud,

      The challenge, then, is for someone with your mentality to have a successful daw’ah project in the west. As I outlined above, all you’re really simply saying is that you don’t want the burden of paying for yourself – you want someone else to pick up the tab (someone else should give the scholar gifts, pick up his and his family’s health care costs, he should be dependent on the kindnesses of others, etc).

      Also, as I mention above, before the rise of the traveling institutes, most halaqahs and programs just plain sucked – no one was going to them except a few handfuls. We would lament in conferences the poor state of the Muslim Ummah, that the majority of Muslims don’t know their deen. Now the “halaqaat” are much better, the people are coming – how about someone who really cares about books market the books then? Oh yeah, that would require work, that would require that we have authors writing amazing books in the target language, and of course, it would require the spending of money to account for printing costs as well as time given to write the book (or are we expecting authors to also operate on donations?).

      The beggar / donation / fundraiser mindset we have has been one of the drawbacks many Muslim projects have had since day 1 – it’s ok for getting things off the ground when you have nothing established, but our communities are beyond that, and we need a Muslim Community 2.0 initiative which properly organizes our resources in an intelligent and coherent fashion to advance our agenda and progress in society – proper and systematic models for disseminating Islamic knowledge to the masses is going to be the foundation of our success, for with ignorance, we will remain in humiliation.

      Siraaj

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      • Dawud Israel

        The challenge, then, is for someone with your mentality to have a successful daw’ah project in the west.

        I’m working on it…and I should mention for myself, money isn’t an object. I want Islam to succeed at any cost (this is where some brother yells, “What about free?!”). The concern is what the consequences of mixing money and Islam have been. Anywhere from excluding the poor, to these exclusive over-crowded personality cults which end up making it hard for newer projects to get started and moving- the projects that require ikhlas only , unaided with the help of hype, fame and peer pressure.

        Your point about the halaqat being dead before, is not empirically sound. First of all, the success of these institutes and them being the reason Islam is getting strong could be contended. SunniPath and Zaytuna were there for a long time before AlMaghrib but how successful were they, even though one could argue they provide better programs? So personally, I think the success has more to do with the growth of Muslims in the West and not to do with these institutes alone, although that does play a role. Secondly, and I’ve mentioned this to others is the fact AlMaghrib is experiencing a “Plateau period”- there are many students and its not as novel or exciting as before. Thirdly, I’ve seen a great deal of halaqas putter off and die quickly, the only ones that remain strong are those which were strong before these institutes came into the scene. Hype and fame aren’t enough to sustain a person- not nearly as much as pure ikhlas (sincerity) can.

        And your other point about the books, well all I can say is take a look on Amazon or actually look around. There are plenty of books that get published successfully- but people are biased and afraid of reading something “inauthentic”…which is a false fear. Read with an open mind, but read intelligently. If people can read books about heretical groups and all the wrong things in there, then they can handle reading just about anything Islamic.

        Donations and sadaqa is the nature of our deen. Baytul Maal and looking for donations has always been something that has happened, true. So we do need a support structure, I agree- frankly, as soon as someone wants to start a project, I end up seeing them asking for donations, rather than paying for it from their own pocket or even demonstrating the worth and value of their project.

        However, a support structure will not come in the form of charging people and forcing them to pay! That is only one step shy of asking for donations endlessly. If its going to happen at that level, we need to setup grants and funding systems. Even secular universities ask for donations and have teams organized for fund raising- so we need to understand that we cannot get rid of that and that it will be a part of our development, but what we need is a way to organize and channel our financial resources.

        -Dawud

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      • Siraaj Muhammad

        The concern is what the consequences of mixing money and Islam have been. Anywhere from excluding the poor, to these exclusive over-crowded personality cults which end up making it hard for newer projects to get started and moving- the projects that require ikhlas only , unaided with the help of hype, fame and peer pressure.

        The consequences of mixing money and Islam is:

        A. The Poor are Excluded: False – there’s not a single org that doesn’t try to accommodate students according to their financial situation. The burden is on the student who cares about the knowledge to seek out assistance, as with any institute of learning.

        B. Exclusive, Overcrowded Personality Cults: This existed before the institutes, and in fact has existed even before our generation, and even before our century, or have we forgotten about madhabism? Long before Zaytuna, AlMaghrib, AlKauthar, and all other institutes, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, who only did conferences, had a LARGE following (and continues to do so), both among the masses and the few who came close to him.

        C. The Blocking of Projects that Require Ikhlas: You mean you believe that these other projects have no Ikhlas in them, or they lack in it? Is it that money is clouding the virtue of Islamic seminars and projects, or is it that poverty is clouding your thoughts about who does and doesn’t have ikhlas? I hope this is not what you mean, as it is a dangerous statement implication.

        D. The Blocking of Projects Due to Hype, Fame, and Peer Pressure: Hype and fame come part and parcel with success – if you’re not doing a quality job, no one cares about your daw’ah. If your programs are not strong enough to deal with that, that’s your fault, so take responsibility for it. And, I might add, if you’re expectations for how great your program should be from the get-go, that might be another problem.

        As for peer pressure, i have no problems with peer pressuring people to come to what is good to benefit them, rather than them staying at home watching television, wasting time, and being peer pressured into low quality programs where the intention for good is high, but the delivery of quality and benefit is low.

        Your point about the halaqat being dead before, is not empirically sound. First of all, the success of these institutes and them being the reason Islam is getting strong could be contended. SunniPath and Zaytuna were there for a long time before AlMaghrib but how successful were they, even though one could argue they provide better programs? So personally, I think the success has more to do with the growth of Muslims in the West and not to do with these institutes alone, although that does play a role. Secondly, and I’ve mentioned this to others is the fact AlMaghrib is experiencing a “Plateau period”- there are many students and its not as novel or exciting as before. Thirdly, I’ve seen a great deal of halaqas putter off and die quickly, the only ones that remain strong are those which were strong before these institutes came into the scene. Hype and fame aren’t enough to sustain a person- not nearly as much as pure ikhlas (sincerity) can.

        1. LOL, it’s true, I don’t have statistical data to back up that the reason people avoided halaqahs is because of the lack of professionalism, quality, and a model that takes normal life into account. Nor do you have statistical data to demonstrate rising numbers of western muslims equates with causation for why we have more students in programs. I don’t know what Sunnipath or zaytuna’s numbers are, but let’s be real, AlMaghrib wipes the floor with any institute, and I’m not saying that as I would on the forums for competition trash talk – it is what it is because the work for the programs are very proactively grassroots, the quality of instruction and experience is high, and the instructors, unlike what you stated above, are not clique-ish and are quite accessible – you can interact and hang with them like anyone else after class. The point of mentioning the difference is that if rising numbers of Muslims is what drives people, then it should happen across the board, and it’s simply not.

        2. AlMaghrib is going through a plateau? LOL, tell that to great britain and western canada, and the east coast (NY, NJ, and Virginia/Maryland).

        3. Hype, fame, ikhlas, and unsustainability: So you believe that these halaqahs that puttered off and died did so because they lack ikhlas? And all these institutes that remain successful most have ikhlas because they are not surviving, but thriving? Then why attack them for their financial models, according to your assumptions and conclusions, they are the most sincere :D

        And your other point about the books, well all I can say is take a look on Amazon or actually look around. There are plenty of books that get published successfully- but people are biased and afraid of reading something “inauthentic”…which is a false fear. Read with an open mind, but read intelligently. If people can read books about heretical groups and all the wrong things in there, then they can handle reading just about anything Islamic.

        You’ve completed missed the author’s point – her point is that people are not reading any books, even from the scholars they trust, and that their islamic knowledge is almost exclusively lecture-driven. And, you may note if you re-read, she’s talk about books that are sitting on the person’s bookshelf, bought and never opened.

        Donations and sadaqa is the nature of our deen. Baytul Maal and looking for donations has always been something that has happened, true. So we do need a support structure, I agree- frankly, as soon as someone wants to start a project, I end up seeing them asking for donations, rather than paying for it from their own pocket or even demonstrating the worth and value of their project.

        However, a support structure will not come in the form of charging people and forcing them to pay! That is only one step shy of asking for donations endlessly. If its going to happen at that level, we need to setup grants and funding systems. Even secular universities ask for donations and have teams organized for fund raising- so we need to understand that we cannot get rid of that and that it will be a part of our development, but what we need is a way to organize and channel our financial resources.

        Starting a project and participating and benefiting from the project are different discussions. But just for fun, let’s take the university example – the university takes donations, does that stop them from taking 10s of thousands in riba loans from you? The donations are not for subsidizing your learning, it’s for research.

        Now for starting a project, I agree, resource needs are great initially, and you may have to borrow and take donations from here, there, and everywhere but what is it that you’re doing to make the project viable and sustainable, and most importantly, self-sufficient? How is money coming in for future needs? If it’s the donation model from the rich uncle model, that’s fine, but just because you want to take donations to handle your costs from one person vs distributing the cost over 100 individuals in tuition fees doesn’t mean that in the end, your version is more virtuous and those who do so have less ikhlas. In either case, money will be given voluntarily by one party or set of parties to a cause they think has value and will benefit them Islamically, you’re simply arguing one source of your income is more virtuous than another, and it makes no sense.

        Siraaj

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      • Abd- Allah

        “and the instructors, unlike what you stated above, are not clique-ish and are quite accessible – you can interact and hang with them like anyone else after class.”

        Dear brother Siraaj, I do not agree that the instructors are accessible. Perhaps they are accessible to their own students during seminars and lectures, but from my experience, the shuyookh are not really accessible to the general Muslim population. Let us assume that an average Muslim wants to contact one of these instructors to ask him a question or something. You will realize that he will not be able to contact him neither by phone nor by email because the instructor’s contact information is not made available for the public. Maybe it is easy for someone like you who is a regular student at these seminars to contact one of the instructors, and to you it doesn’t seem like the instructors are “clique-ish” because you are part of that clique and therefore its exclusivity does not affect you because you are not the one who is being excluded. However, from the perspective of the average Muslim who doesn’t attend these seminars or isn’t a member of that institution, then these shuyookh aren’t really accessible, not even if you want to ask them a simple question to get a fatwa from them, or even to give them a small piece of advice. Now one might wonder, what do you expect the shuyookh to do? make their contact information available to the public? and my answer is: Why not? The least they can do is give out their email addresses and make them public to everyone. Or else what kind of a Muslim Ummah would we have if the common Muslim doesn’t have access to the shuyookh, and thus doesn’t have access to the knowledge that they have been entrusted with? So can we really say that these shuyookh are the shuyookh of the Muslim society, or rather in reality, are they only the shuyookh for that particular institution? Now these are just my thoughts on this particular issue that you mentioned, and I mention them here so that perhaps there is benefit in them for some people to see the other views out there and become aware of their existence.

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      • Qas

        Abd- Allah … I’ve contacted Sh. Yasir Qadhi through this site and got an answer. I have never went to a single al-Maghrib seminar as well. If there is a will, there is a way IMO.

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      • Dawud Israel

        I think you’ve got into your classic “refuting” mode and shutting out what I, and others, have tried to get across, which is definitely not constructive and I’m not quite sure what you are expecting me to say when you bring that sort of attitude. I’m giving you some of my ideas here, they aren’t the only way to look at this, but just one way.

        Re-read what I said. On the point of ikhlas, two things since you distorted what I was saying:

        1) Nothing “measures” ikhlas accurately. The difference I was getting at was someone who went out of “pure ikhlas” (i.e. no outside influences, totally on their own) vs. someone who went with ikhlas but with the help of peer pressure, lots of hype and really looking up to the speakers.

        Key point: Hype and fame are not a valid measure for ikhlas. If that were the case, you are saying something problematic to the dawah of the Prophets, especially Nabi salallahu alayhi wasalam who for whom Islam took quite some time to gather momentum. Hype? Fame? Or humiliation? Lets stick with the Prophetic method here which is rooted in sabr, not Anthony Robbins or flashy corporate marketing tactics.

        2) What I am saying is there is a big difference between someone who has worked, struggled hard to get into the deen, and someone else who just got forced to go to a seminar because their parents are going. You’ll see the difference when no one is around and only Allah is watching- and that is the true test of emaan. I’m sure you know that. And there are threads on the forums I could demonstrate this by, but I won’t because of giving benefit of the doubt and hiding people’s faults.

        Tbh, the institutes, especially AlMaghrib are great. But the students (i.e. yourself) are becoming “veterans” and I thought AM was really strong but this thread on the forums (compare views to votes) made me question that: http://forums.almaghrib.org/showthread.php?t=36767

        I located those quotations from the Salaf that look down on mixing money and Islam. I would post them now, but gaining ilm just to refute someone is…not from the akhlaaq of the Sunnah. Some other time insha Allah. :)

        But yeah, one thing to remember, which puts things in perspective is its important to move at the pace of the masses- the slowest among us- I believe that principle is mentioned in the Quran and so we should abide by it.

        -Dawud

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  33. Abu Rumaisa

    But they should realize theirs isn’t the only way- the argument about people taking Islam seriously when they pay for a course is true, but not always true. Once you’ve brought them into the system and the whole deen-addiction, do you need to keep making them pay for Islam?

    This is an awesome point…

    Nouman Ali Khan was in the my area last week & when he said no one should be deprived of knowledge because they can’t afford it.. he really meant it.

    He didn’t care that the class didn’t have a minimum # of paid registrants to have the class & he said if one can’t make the payment due to lack of funds then not to worry, attend the class. It was between that person & Allah. I was really impressed by it.

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  34. Olivia

    We can argue about whether or not classes and what not should be free, but at the end of the day these orgs that people are “hating” on for being “pricey” are extremely successful despite the pricetag. They have the greatest number of students and their shuyukh are the most well taken care of (considering that in other countries the govt takes care of them, we definitely need a feasible financial alternative in the US). people can try to pass of the number of students on some sort of cult following, but i beg to differ. i’ve seen the difference it’s made in the lives of people on a personal and spiritual level one to many times to know that’s not the case.

    just some thoughts.

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  35. Reem

    Salaam Alaikum,

    No one can deny that reading and gaining knowledge go hand in hand, but like many people have mentioned already is that no scholar of islam became a scholar by reading alone. That is impossible. One MUST study under the supervision of an existing scholar.

    I also wanted to point out that I don’t think anyone mentioned is that, there are still many, MANY, cities in the US that do NOT have the opportunity to attend any lectures, conferences, seminars, etc. Some cities barely have a functioning masjid and are lucky to attend jummah khutbah and maybe a weekly halaqa if that.

    Growing up in a smaller muslim community, we had to travel 4-6 hours just to attend a conference once a year. We never had the blessing to listen to muslim scholars on a weekly or even monthly basis. That is why some of the scholars have become almost like celebrities. Now they are much more accessible with so many programs all over the country, but some communities still don’t get that opportunity.

    We must not take for granted what is available in your areas. Some people would kill for a chance to sit in the company and learn from these scholars and shayookh. We also must remember that 10-15 years ago none of these programs were available even in some of the larger muslim communities.

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    • Me

      Assalaamu alaikum,

      Well said sister Reem.

      I also don’t agree with most of the article.
      It is true we need to read more, but we also need these books explained to us by those more knowledgeable. You don’t become a medical doctor or engineer by opening books….you learn from those who know how to practice that field.

      As for paying, I don’t see anything wrong with that either. Scholars of the past did not seek knowledge for free. To travel from Basra to Makkah you needed money. Many of these scholars were in fact very poor because they spent all their wealth on travelling from here to there to seek knowledge.

      Moreover, interacting with knowledgable Shuyookh leads one to have more respect for the Scholars. You also learn manners (adab) from the Shuyookh more than you learn manners from a book.

      And it doesn’t bother me to see youth all hyped up about seeking knowledge. Is it not better than being hyped up about the haraam or useless? As long as their intention is only for the sake of Allah, then alhamdulilah they are concerned and excited about seeking knowledge.

      And Allah knows best.

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    • Amir

      I think that is absolutely true – that you need independent studying (books) as well as teachers (classes/lectures) to learn in the most proper way. I think all secular schools are pretty much designed that way too. And I think the article was consistent with that idea, and I don’t think it was down-playing going to lectures and seminars to attain knowledge.

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  36. ursister

    Asalamu Alikum,

    If you were to leave the west for a bit and come back later for a visit after the establishment of these knowledge institutes, you would truly appreciate what they have done. There is a very clear difference in the lives of people after the spread of this knowledge.

    Reading is a must, it goes along with seeking knowledge from the scholars and students of knowledge. From them, we also learn true adab and akhlaaq based on their knowledge. It really makes the heart smile to see such great examples of akhlaaq raising our youth.

    May Allah protect every institute striving to spread authentic knowledge and cause it to grow and flourish. May Allah protect our scholars and du’aat and increase them in khair.

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  37. Abd- Allah

    “its important to move at the pace of the masses- the slowest among us- I believe that principle is mentioned in the Quran and so we should abide by it.”

    Dear brother Dawud, can you please provide the reference for this principle, like in which surah of the Quran is it mentioned and what verse number.

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    • Dawud Israel

      Subhana Allah- I somewhat forgot, but I will look it up and post it here, insha Allah tomorrow.
      *runs off to find the reference*

      P.S. This is why I started taking detailed notes on lecture sets, otherwise, ilm is little more than a vanishing memory !

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      • Dawud Israel

        My apologies akhi, I tried to find it but I could not. I believe it was at a talk I attended recently.
        Please forgive.

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      • Abd- Allah

        No problem brother Dawud, but its just that I don’t think this principle is mentioned in the Quran. I think this was the speaker’s own opinion maybe?

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      • Dawud Israel

        Perhaps, but the general idea- if not explicitly, its there nonetheless. I mean look at the blind man in Surah Abasa, look at how the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam would not abandon his poor companions just to please the rich…essentially, the majority of people (now and then) are poor, and giving preference to the rich over the poor is not something the Quran encourages. Islam really is not about elitism. Allahu Alaam.

        Personally, I think halaqas are the way to go. It accommodates everyone, rich or poor, it is consistent (and Allah loves those deeds which are small but consistent) and its stable- you can’t “destroy” the halaqa or mess it up. The only ingredients needed are sabr and ikhlas. And its easy to make changes, try new books and speakers. Overall, working at a grass-roots level is part of the Sunnah.

        Allahu Alaam.

        -Dawud

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    • Abd- Allah

      “My response is for abd-,
      DUDE, buy ANYYYYYYYYY of sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s books and it has his email written on it….
      Sheikh Muhammad Faqih has a website which has his number and you can call and hell speak to u for 15 mins…
      Sheikh Yasir Birjas can be contacted through this blog and Mohammad alshareef through forums, etc.”

      Brother Ikhlas, when I tried getting in touch with one of those shuyookh that you have mentioned, it wasn’t as easy as you have described it above. In fact, after trying to contact him several times I finally gave up and so I didn’t end up talking to him.

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  38. Abu Ninja

    What my sister Umm Abdulla is quite clearly criticizing, is something many of the major scholars have also critacized.

    An that is hizbiyah [bigoted partisanship].

    Where you have some Muslims who have hizbiyah towards organisation X. As a result of hizbiyah, some of them wont even attend any seminars by organization Z, as they view them as competition! Walahee this is true! As I personally know of individuals who have such hizbiyah and refuse to attend any seminars organized by the “rival” organization.

    Then you have some Muslims who have hizbiyah towards certain speakers only, and take everything that speakers says, even if that speaker holds opinions which clearly go against what the majority of the major ulamah hold.

    The problem is not paying to attend seminars and seek knowledge. As it is almost incumbent that you have to depart with some money to seek ilm. For example, when you want a certain Islamic book, its not free. You have to pay for it.

    The problem is the hizbiyah that has developed with some of these organizations. I feel the instructors for these organizations should speak more openly and warn against the disease of hizbiyah.

    An Allah knows best.

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    • Abd- Allah

      You have a point brother Abu Ninja, but I think that most people who wouldn’t attend the other institution’s seminars is because they view it and what it teaches as deviant.

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  39. shahgul

    The whole point of Seminar Islam is to give the common man a ‘taste’ of Islam. The shuyukh regurgitate some ‘digested knowledge’ to their audience. The audience goes home with some more knowledge and the benefit of having sat in an assembly of good. No one aims at or expects the attendees to become scholars. For kids, it is an essential ‘social activity’ that keeps them involved in good and keeps them away from bad. They do spend money, but they could have spent that at the weekend game with an unhealthy dose of cheerleader anatomy. I have seen my own son’s life turned around after attending Al-Maghrib’s programs.
    If anyone wants to become a scholar, the burden of scholarship will still be on their own shoulders. There is no shortcut for that.

    I think it is reasonable for the Shuyookh to charge for their time. They are human beings too and have to pay their bills too! If they spent their time doing some other work, they would make much more money. At least Al-Maghrib has financial aid available for those who cannot afford.

    My only problem is that the Ilm Fest costs upward of $1000. Now that is a lot of money!

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    • Ahmad AlFarsi

      My only problem is that the Ilm Fest costs upward of $1000. Now that is a lot of money!

      I think u mean IlmSummit :) . Ilm Fest is $30 or $40 i think :)

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  40. Desi

    Many people have missed the point.

    The problem isn’t holding classes or studying with scholars at all. The problem lies in people thinking in a cult like mentality where they think there ‘instructors’ are the only right people on a topic or are completely correct. So if someone brings to them evidence backed up by classical scholars they will just dismiss it because it wasn’t mentione by there Shaykh! They will use excuses like ‘oh this is out of context’ or ‘its proably a mistranslation’ and they don’t even know Arabic! I have personally faced this when al Maghrib folloers and I am not talking about low level guys who only took one or two classes I am reffering to people who are Ameers of qabilahs and there inner circle. This partisanship and cult like mentality is no different then what we find in the Madkhalis. When these brothers are confronted with this they brush it off like its nothing just like other groups with similar mind sets. I have even seen this mentality emerge slightly on this very thread where certain people feel as if they have to defend there ‘group’ and its way. This mentality emerges when people don’t broaden there horizon in learning the deen and feel that just because the shaykh they studied with is really nice and out going he must correct. The Prophet warned us of following just beautiful speech because this could lead us astray. When we read books we can double check if the things we are being taught are truly correct. When we go to different scholars we can double check if what we are being taught is correct.

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  41. Siddiq

    I totally dislike the authors style in writing this. She initially seems to be attacking a particular organization that she is fed up with, and then trying to appease her statement by linking it to the traditions of the early Muslims.

    In early generations the students of knowledge used to travel to their scholars, and learn under them on a daily basis. (only now the teachers are being brought to the students)

    Stop attacking a proven method that works for many just to try and spread your agenda. Support both techniques. They can co exist…

    May Allah reward all the flier passers who do so for the right reasons.

    P.S – If you seriously hate getting a flier, have the courage to stand up, look them in the eye, and tell them that you don’t want their flier. Dont waste their resources by throwing it away.

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    • Calcutta Express

      “P.S – If you seriously hate getting a flier, have the courage to stand up, look them in the eye, and tell them that you don’t want their flier. Dont waste their resources by throwing it away.”

      Then how would we have material to write articles that will sway people away from knowledge? You obviously need to read more books because you couldn’t come up with this conclusion :)

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    • Amir

      Wow, check out the rude posting. Siddiq, your posts through different Islamic forums tend to have a very similar style. Assumptions, absurd accusations, and insults.

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  42. IbnAbbas

    I think there has been some misunderstandings between what the author is trying to say and what has been perceived by some of the people here.

    1. The author is not attacking a particular institution. I think most of the criticism in respond are put forth by the Al-Maghrib fans! who think they are been attacked. The author only laid out some genereal observations.

    2. These expensive brand institutes may have changed life of many individuals, and there is no doubt alhamdulillah. But thats not a proof enough to show that everything they’re doing MUST be good!

    3. I can name you some big u’lamaa in the West (not just a student of knowledge) who have criticised the same points such as expensiveness, advertisement, giving the instructors ‘exclusivity’, and segregation issues etc.

    Allah knows best. May Allah put blessings in whatever good these dawah organisations are doing in any part of the World. Ameen.

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    • Ikhlas

      There are hundreds of free halaqas (@least in tri-state) and just look at their turn-out. A teacher once mentioned that Quran is free, how many of us have it memorized?

      Lets hear the prices of other institutes. How much does Zaytuna and Sunnipath charge?

      An institute based in NY, who provide quality classes, charges anywhere near 100-125 for 10 hours of class. I understand why they are so expensive, its because they have a building which they have to pay the rent for and other expenses. (Atlmaghribites pay 135 for 40 hours, sounds like a bargain to me).

      I bring this up only because, every time someone mentions high prices, they are always referring to Almaghrib and completely neglecting the prices that other institutes charge.

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      • ummaasiyah

        I personally think that it’s all relative. There are two institutes that I know of: Al Maghrib and Al Kauthar and to be honest, both charge fairly.

        Al Kauthar holds single weekend courses and charges about £60 per course or £35 for a one-day course and that’s because they give big folders with lots of notes in them. On the other hand, Al Maghrib are a little pricier with their courses being £87 and they provide smaller ringbound booklets with sparse notes (I was a little disappointed by that, considering I was used to the Al Kauthar format, but read on, cos I felt there was a good reason for there being not too many notes)…BUT, they have double weekend courses, hence they charge more than Al Kauthar, esp. due to venue and equipment hire. The disappointment of the sparse notes subsided when I realised that I ended up paying far more attention and made more notes, because I needed to ensure my notes were detailed, so I learnt a great deal more in the process…and ended up with a sore wrist, lol. :)

        At the end of the day, I don’t mind paying all that amount to either institute, because I know where their money is going. Having had my wedding in a hotel, I know how much money goes towards venue and equipment hire and therefore, it doesn’t hurt me to pay either Al Maghrib and Al Kauthar. And even if these organisations were earning profit, they deserve it more than these other haraam educational institutes and commercial businesses.

        The ONLY complaint I have is that Al Maghrib’s courses are double weekenders and it can be a little difficult to commit to two weekends in a row, due to family issues. Having said that, time spent learning the deen could be the difference between being sent to Jannah or Jahannum.

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      • shahgul

        I agree the double weekend thing can be done by kids only. People with jobs and family responsibility cannot get away for that long.

        The other problem with Al-Maghrib’s format is that the audience is passive. There are no exercises or participation. That throws the burden of learning/teaching squarely on the shoulder of the teacher. You might as well be snoring.

        Students are not expected to have read their assignments in advance and exams are held at a later time and are optional. I think if exams were held the same day and were compulsory, and students were expected to read in advance, learning would be more effective.

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  43. Yusuf

    In the name of Allah

    “IQRA”

    First words of revelation….. Kinda sounds important.

    And Allah Knows best

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  44. Mombeam

    Everytime I hear people complain about fees being charged for Islamic classes I tell them our experiences. My husband is a sought-after Arabic teacher. He has seen the difference between classes which are offered for free and classes where students have had to pay more than a nominal fee for the class. The students who don’t pay do not show up consistently, don’t do their assigned work, etc., and end up being very disruptive to the class. The students who have to pay take the class seriously, do their work, and learn.

    Unfortunately, this is human nature.

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  45. Swarth Moor

    Just a word of advice: We don’t “chunk” fliers other religious materials in the trash can. Papers with Allah’s Name, and Religious references need to be disposed of properly.

    With Allah is the success.

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  46. Stranger

    Jazak’Allahu khayr sister!

    I have for sometime been saddened by the shopping channel type marketing and sales techniques exhibited by some “Islamic” organisations, along with the shameless self-promotion. One email I received recently stated that: “…in our community, it’s just not our culture to focus on the ‘Post-Ramadan’ season. Sure there is going to be a lecture at the local centres about ‘What now after Ramadan’ and the speaker is going to lecture you for an hour or so. But the key word here is: lecture you.” Is the person who sent this email actually aware of all of the different ‘Post Ramadan’ lectures that happen in different communities? How does he know that all they will do as he puts it ‘lecture’ us? Yet he decided to criticise wholesale! And of course, after which he went on to sell his boot camp.

    Whilst I do not believe that there is anything wrong in charging for Islamic knowledge, after all every organisation has costs to cover, it’s the way Islam is packaged and sold that is problematic, and if you add to that the groupie following and the celebrity “Shaykh” culture that goes along with the aforementioned it is very worrying times indeed. A “Shaykh” culture that the “Shaykh’s” are doing very little to squash, whilst those who truly deserve the title of scholar remain to many complete unknowns.

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    • Qas

      “A “Shaykh” culture that the “Shaykh’s” are doing very little to squash, whilst those who truly deserve the title of scholar remain to many complete unknowns.”

      There is an irony in that statement, me thinks.

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  47. Bint Muhammad

    Asalaamu Alaikum dear brothers/sisters

    Jazakh’Allah khairan for the article. It is indeed thought provoking for all students of knowledge. However, I disagree with many of the points raised and feel that it is more of an emotional response than a reasoned one.

    The comment about the greatest complaint with Eid prayer being not enough trash cans to bin the fliers may have been flippant – maybe not – but for me, it started the tone of the article in the wrong way and just showed the little regard the author has for the work the Institutions do. I get the feeling that she would not be so hasty to chuck fliers in the trash if seminars,conferences, lectures etc never took place in her home town. Furthermore, I also get the feeling that if these places never did any events in her town, she may be complaining that she don’t have access to the knowledge, to the Shuyukh, to meeting other students etc. Alhamdulillah, I am so grateful that I have many opportunities to gain knowledge in a format suitable for me where I live and some of these involve attending intensive seminars and others involve weekly classes at the local masjid.

    There are many people here that are saying that the point of the article has been missed…perhaps it has by some…..but it is clear that the author isn’t just advocating reading as the primary way to gain knowledge – it seems that she is saying that it is the only way to gain knowledge. Let’s not get into semantics here, the tone of the whole article is rubbishing institutes in their attempts to spread knowledge in the way that they do. I honestly believe that if the “point” of the article was indeed to inculcate a culture of reading amongst students when seeking knowledge, the author would have written the entire piece from a different angle – that much is painfully obvious.

    Re the point of reading, I totally agree that it’s important and is a key part of serious study, but it cannot be used alone. This I feel is more dangerous because people just rely on their own interpretations of texts and these can sometimes be way off the mark – I have seen this myself a number of times. I don’t really need to re-hash old arguments about scholarly tradition because we are all well aware of them. However, one thing that really sprang to mind is that….some people don’t actually like reading! Shock horror! How can you be a student of knowledge if you don’t like reading I hear people cry. This may be a bit hard to take but some people don’t want to be a serious student of knowledge, they just want to know about the fiqh of fasting for example and want to know how it affects their life practically and crucially, they want the opportunity to ask a knowledgeable person questions right there and then….not having trawl through different forums, sites etc or buying 3 books on the subject. My own brother just does not like reading, he never has, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t learn about the deen in a way that suits him. It’s ludiocrous to suggest otherwise.

    The point about it being easy to attend these courses is, I don’t think true at all. Please tell me what is easy about waking up at 5am, travelling for 2hrs, attending a course for 10/12 hrs, travelling for another 2 hrs, coming home and organising the kids and flopping into bed at 11pm only to do it again the next day. Many sisters/brothers do this and then have work Mon – Fri. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, these institutues aren’t exactly cheap so again, how is it easy just to go along to a seminar? So no, not “anyone”
    can do it – and they don’t. Only those who value the knowledge are willing to make such sacrifices and it heartens me to see people striving with their time, their wealth and their health in order to do so. As one of my teachers put it ‘if you’re not up to the job, Allah will surely replace you with better’.

    The point about hizbiyah is most certainly true and yes this needs to be addressed. I remember being in a seminar and being squarely told off (along with the other 300 students) about this pop star culture towards certain shuyukh….so the shuyukh themselves are not happy about it. In fact, they are worried about it because that is where shaytaan can creep in and give them an over inflated sense of their own importance, ego etc. May Allah protect all of our teachers from that.

    I also agree that some students just wait until the next seminar and don’t do much in between, so feel that institutes should look into ways of making them more active in between. There are examples of this e.g. AlKauthar have an ongoing student program outside of the weekend seminars. Students take one or two books each semester and study them intensively with the help of the same qualified tutors who deliver the intensive seminars. There are assignments and end of semester exams and you have to pass in order to progress to the next year. Later on in the 5 yr program, students will be taught in arabic so they are required to learn that too. This goes a long way in bridging the gaps between seminars and really is for those who wish to study more seriously. The students on the program are also actively involved in other da’wah projects (again a requirement of the program) in the community, putting their knowledge into action.The program is now operational in 3 countries and although there are many costs with hosting it, it is currently FREE alhamdulillah. They have a lot of other beneficial projects through their charity too, and each student is encouraged to get involved. AlMaghrib have their own projects too for students to get involved with so I don’t think it’s fair at all to say/imply that these org’s just try and make money and don’t care what happens to students outside of that. Both AK/AM don’t turn students away on financial grounds either.

    To conclude, although some of the points in the article may be valid, these have been lost with other misguided assumptions and the general lack of appreciation of the good that these institutues are doing. Granted, no institute is perfect, but guess what? They don’t claim to be. After all, they will only ever be as good as the ummah from which they draw their people from.

    Time for a little introspection perhaps?

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  48. Joe

    Assalamualaykum,

    I think this is a topic that needs to be discussed more. I was the original founders of one of these intensive seminar type international dawah organisations and i soon left it alhumdulillah when i found things to be too financially orientated and it was all about the $$ and people wouldnt teach unless a critcal mass of students were reached. We often like to use the various daleel about yes we are allowed to charge for teaching the Qur’an and because people tend to appreciate at it more if you charge. But come on! lets go back to the Qur’an and how many times Allah (swt) mentions “And no reward you ask of them for it, it (Qur’an) is no less than a reminder and an advice unto the Aalameen” (Surah Yusuf 104) and the sahaabah and our Muslim forefathers gave their own lives, and wealth leaving their comfortable homes to foreign lands just to spread it to the people so it reaches us on a silver platter. But look at us today.

    SubhanAllah this charging for knowledge is slowly becoming a disease as the people become de-sensitised to it as people make more and more of a living from it, and start to build their corporate type like dawah organisations around it like a business.

    It is not only for knowledge, but this is starting to spread like a cancer to all the supporting services to dawah that people are starting to charge money for like just designing logos, trifolds, information booklets, making documentaries, filming etc etc.

    We are sitting around worrying about out pockets before the da’wah whilst countries like Indonesia where the Muslim population has dropped from almost 100% to 80% in about 20 years! this is 1% every year and almost equivalent to almost 5,500 people leaving Islam everyday!! Why? because of the tireless efforts of the missionaries who VOLUNTEER their time to goto these lands and spread their deen to the people.

    Yet we sit back behind our computers, in our reverse air cycle airconditioning talking about the affairs of the world caring about our pockets more then spreading the deen, subhanAllah

    There is alot more to say, but ill stop here.

    may Allah out of his grace and mercy lift this disease of the Muslim Ummah.

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