Adab Of Learning

Imam Malik (رحمه الله) once told a young boy from the tribe of Quraysh:
“You need to learn etiquette (adab) before you acquire knowledge.

“Adab of learning” is one of the weekly classes which has been conducted by Safinah Institute. This post is a summary of the course written by one of our students. Let us benefit together and increase our knowledge to achieve the nearness to Allah, insyaAllah.

What is adab?

1. Fitrah – Natural disposition, an imbued virtue in every person by Allah. Recall to mind the story of Nabi Adam a.s. in which the angels were ordered to prostrate to him because of the knowledge taught to him by Allah.
2. Values – Doing the right thing in a right manner at the right time in the right place, includes all that is good. Learned, inculcated and nurtured over time.
3. Observations – Learning by what we see, experienced, know.
4. Discipline – Although fitrah, it is becoming a lost virtue. To maintain adab, one has to be disciplined, always bearing it in mind, and practicing often in everything we do in life, every day.

Purpose of learning/knowledge

To produce a good person, the inculcation of adab, which leads to taqwa (God-consciousness or piety). Because in the sight of Allah, the most noble of us are the ones with taqwa.
The most perfect example of a knowledgeable person with the best adab – Rasulullah s.a.w.

In hadith from the Musnad of Imam Ahmad: Abū Hurayrah relates that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character (ahklaq).”

Akhlaq is a form of taqwa, that comes from adab and knowledge.
It’s a form of ibadah, and always seek Allah’s pleasure through ibadah first and foremost (instead of just hoping for rewards).

“Life is a journey, faith (iman) is a process and adab is the discipline that ties life and faith together.”

Inward manners of adabadab of learning

1. Intention / Niyyah – The intention for seeking knowledge: for personal gain, for fame? For a Muslim, the intention has to be ALWAYS to seek the pleasure of Allah, that this knowledge would benefit humanity, the ummah and/or the deen somehow. Acquire knowledge to be good, not to harm others.
2. Clear/Defined Goals – Have a clear sense of what you’re seeking. Define what are the steps and goals to get what you’re seeking. What do you wish to achieve at the end of the day? And always ask if what you’re seeking/doing will help others.
3. Respect – Quite a lost art in this modern day. Have a deep, unshakable respect for teachers and scholars, even when we disagree. Their writings/books/thoughts are vessels containing knowledge and guidance. Barakah of respect = barakah of knowledge. As students, we have to be humble. We are the seekers, and by right, our teachers/scholars are actually not obligated to teach us if they don’t want to. Don’t make it as if it’s a favour we’ve done them by seeking them, because without them, we’ll have no knowledge in the first place.
4. Consistency – Learn something new every day. Set aside time to learn something every day (trying to memorize Quran is one of the good ways of implementing consistent learning in our lives). Put in effort, istiqamah (keep doing it consistently). Reward is actually not in the deed but the discipline. Consistency or routine discipline is a big part of life as shown by our 5 daily prayers.
5. Act upon knowledge – Fulfill the purpose of knowledge. Put into practice. Share and teach others.

Reflections: Knowledge with adab is one of the ways to Jannah (recall hadith of being protected by angels for seekers of knowledge – link is: here). Adab is consistency which will help with iman fluctuations. Apply adab to everything we do in life; makes us better people, well-liked and respected by others. Finding a positive spin on things when it gets tough is also part of adab of learning.

Outward manners of adab

1. Repeat & Review – The virtues of repetition. Recall the saying by Zig Ziglar ‘repetition is the mother of all learning.’ Before him, our deen has already taught us that, not by words but by actions – our daily prayers, yearly fasting, yearly zakat are rituals in our deen that are repetitive, so much so it becomes second nature. When learning, always repeat and review, make knowledge stick.
2. Taking Notes and Personal Attitude – From the sunnah of Rasulullah’s sahabah; they were scribes and always jot down what he taught (how else then would we get the hadiths we have today?). Find your own preferred art or science of note-taking e.g. fish diagrams, charts, colorful web notes etc. The attitude to apply is seeking other sources of knowledge on the same topic, broadening the horizon.
3. Ask, Inquire, Clarify – Asking questions for things unsure. Ask with adab, and don’t ask for sake of argument or to prove a point. Need to constantly process info.
4. Extra Readings – The learning process includes notes, reference books, length and breadth of reading. Read effectively; get what the author is trying to say, context, what the main ideas are, why etc (useful concept of 5W1H; who what where why when how) The reading process should be in the following order: Reveal (a glance through), Review (get the plot/gist) and Remind (get details).
5. Preparations – Read up, review before class. Ask and seek clarification in class, note-taking. Organization of notes, understand, internalize and implementation after class. Always come to class with cup half full attitude, without pre-conceived notions, and soak up as much knowledge as possible – there’s always something new or a different perspective to learn.


Written by: Jannahhaqq
To read more, kindly visit her blog..