22 Study Skills from the Quran

By A. Syed

**Editor’s Note: Many of the ayahs referenced by number below are partial ayahs.

Imam Suyuti defines a verse as “Kullu ayatin wafqatun li tadabur”—“every verse is a moment of reflection, a pause for contemplation.”[1]

Qur’an is relevant today, just as it was almost 2 millennia ago. We need to learn to use it, and make it our friend throughout all stages of life, all circumstances and all experiences. Including in our student-life. Here are 22 lessons of guidance from the Qur’an for students till the end of time:

  1. Gratitude

The first bridge connecting humanity with the divine, through His own sacred words is gratitude and appreciation.

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[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds  (1:2)

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The Qur’an begins with loving appreciation and gratitude to Allah in a verse that is both grammatically timeless and speaker-less. Reminding us that whether anyone thanks Him or not, all gratitude and appreciation belong to Him.

As students in the developed world, we’re some of the most collectively ungrateful creatures walking under the sun. While others would give up an arm just to hold a textbook in the other, we’re complaining about everything and anything. We need to remember that foremost, if Allah has given us the time, health, faculties of thought and opportunity to be in school—any school—it’s our job to show a bit of appreciation and gratitude.  As Allah says,

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And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]….(14:7)

The more grateful we are for our professors, our classmates, the cafeteria food, the boring mandatory courses—the more Allah will bless our journey in ways we can’t imagine. Students in Gaza have missile holes where their blackboards are, STOP COMPLAINING — let’s be grateful for our professors, our education, our degree, our marks and our experience.

Pro tip: Say “Alḥamdulilāh” whenever you’re angry or upset at school related issues. Given how frustrating student life is, making “Alḥamdulilāh” a part of your daily vocabulary means a whole lot of blessings will be coming your way!

  1. Intention

Since time immemorial we’ve learned that the purpose of life is to worship:

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And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (51:56)

Surprise of the century: This relates to everything in student life too. Every boring assignment, every 8:30 AM class with a less-than-articulate professor, every sleepless night—there’s a reason for the madness. As students, our habits define our experiences. Take a moment to step back and dream big. Why are you here? This is one question that won’t be asked in any multiple choice exam, but one that you should ask yourself often.

Islam encourages you to dream big. School tells you what the world can give you, Islam asks you what you can give to the world. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, as your rewards are based on the audacity, ambition and depth of your dreams.

Maybe you want to save the world, end poverty, protect the world from financial crisis—or maybe you just want a halal job, to settle down, raise a family and provide for your parents. Both are respectable and worthwhile intentions to make our student experience worship. Yes, even your Google search becomes worship with the right intention.

Islam literally means submission, and part of this submission means to acknowledge that your entire existence is ‘ibādah  — worship of Allah.

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Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah , Lord of the worlds.” (6:162)

Pro Tip: Write down one simple goal (get a job, retire parents, raise a pious family), one medium-level goal (start a small business, build a masjid, lead local da’wah efforts), and one epic-level goal (start the next global corporation to empower world’s developing nation, build hospitals across war-torn lands, establish the state of Palestine through peaceful diplomacy and partnership, build networks of orphanages, etc.)

  1. Seek Knowledge

Allah Al-‘Aleem (All-Knowing) chose an unlettered man who grew up as an orphan, to receive the first revelation: “اقْرَأْ”, “Read!” (96:1). The first command by Allah to the last messenger of God, to the last era of humanity was “Read!” Talk about the start of a ‘knowledge-based’ era. This theme of “اقْرَأْ” was the foundation to the birth of our civilization, from the ascent of Islam to the rise of innovation in Islamic Andalus (Europe). Our rise and fall as a nation was correlated to our commitment to “اقْرَأْ.”

Just as when European aristocrats sent the best of their society to learn from Muslim academics in Andalus at a time when Europe was plunged in dark ages; when Muslim cities were geographies of learning and the pursuit of curiosity; the world sought knowledge through the vessel of Islamic scholarship, now, it’s our responsibility to continue this tradition of learning and curiosity as a continuation of the theme of  “اقْرَأْ.”

Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was commanded to say,

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My Lord Increase me, and increase me in knowledge. (20:114)

Grammarians have noted that the actual du’a is a prayer not just for an increase in knowledge, but an increase in general. Suggesting that knowledge makes you a better human, a better father, a better husband, a better mother, a better individual in society.

Pro Tip: Paradigm shift—try to squeeze a lesson out of every lemon of a situation. Can’t understand your prof’s accent or teaching style in advanced chemistry? Well, you may not learn chemistry but at least you learned how to give effective presentations!

  1. Hard Work, Dedication, and Patience

We learn from Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) what it means to struggle and persevere for a mission. When you’re on a mission you hustle, you exert yourself, you put all that you have into reaching the finish line. One of the earliest revelations:

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Spend the night awake in prayer, except for a little bit of sleep. (73:2)

Allah is teaching the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that when you have a purpose, you must be dedicated, sleeplessly striving for your vision. When you’re driven with intention, Allah tells us we don’t have time to sleep. You’re living to make your dreams a reality, while others are sleeping to glimpse at dreams during the night.

We also learn dedication from the story of Nuh 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):

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He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day.” (71:5)

When studying is worship, when you have a goal, when you have a mission—Islam teaches us through the stories of the Prophets that we must persevere and sleeplessly struggle for our dreams.

Pro Tip: Whatever your level of dedication, hustle to commitment: raise your bar higher. Ask, what can you do (or not do) to make yourself more successful? Maybe taking 45 minute showers isn’t that productive? Or maybe you can survive on 5-6 hours of sleep?

28 / View Comments

28 responses to “22 Study Skills from the Quran”

  1. Jamiu says:

    Dear Author, There was a mix up about Quran 6 vs 162 quoted above, by giving the meaning and interpretation of Q. 6 VS 161 in place of Q. 6 VS 162. Please, recheck and correct. Jazak’Allahu khaeran for propagating and enlighten the Ummah through this medium.

  2. Hassan says:

    Masha Allah! What a beautiful and beneficial article, brother! Jazakallhu Khayr!

  3. Tadar Wazir says:

    As-Salaam-u alaikum, May Allah reward you greatly for your efforts in trying to get us to READ in the name of our LORD Who created…; Ar-Rahman – The Merciful Benefactor; allam al-Qur’an – has taught (and is teaching) The Qur’an; khalaqa al-insaan – (by it) He has created humanity; allmahu-l bayaan – (by so doing) He has imparted (and is imparting) unto humanity articulate thought and speech .

    There is a mix up in your translation of 21:87. In the Arabiya it is spoken in the 2nd person; one person speaking with another. The Prophet Yunus (a.) speaking directly to Allah (h.) Your translation is in the 3rd person; one person speaking about another. In that case the Prophet Yunus (a.) would be telling at least one more person about Allah.

    Please correct it? And keep on keeping on.

    As-Salaam-u alaikum.

    • asharib says:

      Walikum salaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, Jazakallah khayr for your message Tadar. That’s an interesting point, I absolutely agree that dua is a conversation and therefore between the speaker who asks (us) and the listener who answers/responds (Allah). So better translation than the one I used above should have “…no God but YOU” with the current placement of the word Allah maybe in brackets. I totally agree with you, if I understood you correctly.

  4. Umm Hanaa says:

    Masha Allah! May Allah bless you and increase you in ilm for this beneficial article..keep up the good work lil bro.

  5. Hibaysh says:

    Assalamu’alikum brother,

    Very beneficial Alhamdulillah. JazakAllahu Khair!

  6. M. Mahmud says:

    Wonderful article…..I will probably re-read it.

    One small thing:

    (In fact the word Insaan meaning “mankind,” is a hyperbolized form of ‘someone that forgets’ a lot)

    Does it not mean/translate to the man instead of mankind?

    • asharib says:

      Jazakallah khayr for your comment, insaan is used for mankind as a whole in the Qur’an (as best to what I learned, wallahu alim). Man + Woman. It should be on the form “فعلان” which is one of the most exaggerated/hyperbolized forms. On a side note, I recommend listening to Ustadh Norman’s 30th juz tafseer if you haven’t already, it’s mind blowing :)

    • asharib says:

      My apologies brother, I think I may have misunderstood your concern in the above reply! Ignore it! Yes you’re absolutely spot on brother. The translation is mankind. Sometimes going into the language and its literal roots could give depths of meaningful insight.

  7. Aisha says:

    JazakAllah khair for this post! it is really beneficial since i’m a college student!!

  8. saidat akanbi says:

    i have been blessed by reading this. may Allah bless you!

  9. Omar Sawo says:

    Alhamdulillah!,may Allah help us to be prosperous in life and to be dwellers of Janna,Paradise.Ameen!

  10. Aisha says:

    Jazak’ Allah Khaeer for this wonderful article. Benefited from this so much Allhamdulillah. If we have this kind of attitude in everything that we do or intent to do then In Shaa Allah, Allah Almighty will add Barakah in our work..

  11. mebruka Abdurahman says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. JZK, for this amazing and helpful advice. It was the best 22 study skills i have ever read in my life, mainly because it was from the quran. I pray to Allah that he strengths you to attain his pleasure and grant you Firdose.

  12. atiya says:

    wow…… i was so demoralised and finding no reason why I am studying. …. but this article give me dedication, hope, and purpose of my life. …. surely I will be reading it in my hard times again..

  13. Mohammad says:

    May Allah bless u good article

    i was thinking when we mention the name of RasoolAllah peace be upon him we should add Rasool or Nabi out of respect as well no? may Allah bless you good article

  14. RB says:

    Assalamualaykum warahmatullahhi wabarakatuhu, Thank you so much for this article.
    May Allah bless all of us.

  15. Afra Asad says:

    Masha Allah this is the best inspiring article I’ve ever read.
    Jazakallahu khairto the Author

  16. […] lower our gaze and avoid staring at the opposite gender beyond the first immediate glance. Ibn Qayim[2] reminds us that we can never have insight and depth without the proper use of our sight. Use your […]

  17. Halla says:

    Masha Allah. I really like this article.
    This article boosted up my motivation and
    beliefs in Allah.

    Thank you!

  18. saba mariam yasir says:

    allahu akbar!!
    what a beautiful article it is …right now i am so relieved by reading this article……..i was so much in tension that my exams are approaching and that its one of the biggest fight of my life and that i havent prepared a bit since the past 10 months .
    allhamdullillah i found this article and i have full faith in allah that he will give me the best.
    remember me in your duas……jazakallah khair.

  19. Da Fityah says:

    Assalam. Thank you very much for your sharing. Students must know this. May Allah bless you.

  20. Tuğba says:

    Assalamun Alaikum , while i was searching to find how islamic scholars studied , the way of their lives i came across with this great article . Thank you so much for this .

    I will be glad if anyone can suggest me a resource where i can learn how they studied ..

  21. Yassine L says:

    Jazakuallah khayaran dear brother ! Very inspiring

  22. Ali Anzer says:

    Jzk Allah. So beneficial as i was about to start my University and still didn’t know why and what i need to do. Certainly have given me a motive now.

    May Allah give you its Ajar.
    Salam

  23. H Z says:

    Assalamualaikum. The title mentions 22 skills but there are only 4 points described here.

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