Studying Islam: Going Beyond Requirements

Studying Islam: Going Beyond Requirements

I have been studying Islam since the age of thirteen across a variety of institutes. During this time, I have observed the study habits of different students. I have also observed the impact these habits have on that student’s life.

In doing so, I noticed a very important trend: The students who became the leading scholars of their communities are…Those students who not only excel at the prescribed work but went beyond that and dedicated extra time to studying Islam.

Curriculum and Limitations

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Every Islamic institute has a set curriculum. The curriculum serves multiple benefits. These include giving students a structured approach to learning. As well as taking them from elementary knowledge progressing upward towards more complicated books. And finally providing a framework of reference to evaluate learning.

However, many people misunderstand the purpose of a curriculum. They look at it as all they need to study. As a result, they never study anything outside the curriculum. The problem with this approach is that it leads to a limited understanding of the subjects. The danger is compounded when the student thinks he is knowledgeable in the field.

Students of knowledge must realize that their prescribed curriculum is not a comprehensive study of everything there is to know of each topic. Rather the curriculum usually includes introductory level books to familiarize the student with each science and field.

The people setting the curriculum do so with the understanding that the chosen book will give the student the necessary tools to explore advanced books in the field on their own or with other teachers. It was never meant to be a limit on their knowledge intake.

Types of Students:

The few students who realize this are the ones who truly excel and become the leaders in their field. Imagine for example, if a university is offering an introductory level course on Fiqh Maxims.

In such a course, it is common to find three types of students:

1) The lazy student who just passes the exams by memorizing the minimum that is necessary to pass. Such a student is most likely to forget that knowledge afterwards. And will not be able to apply it outside the examples mentioned in the textbook.

2) The dedicated student who limits himself to the textbook. This student will likely do well in the exam. Maybe even be able to benefit from the knowledge and utilize it outside the classroom. However, such a student may not be aware of the detailed application of the principles, the differences of opinion and the intricate details because he limited himself to an introductory textbook.

3) The student who is dedicated to master the topic. This student will not only learn what is in the textbook but will go beyond that. He will ask the teacher for recommended resources on the topic, ask questions about differences of opinion and intricate issues, study each topic from multiple angles and viewpoints, and emerge from the course with a stronger understanding of the topic.

This is the kind of student who is most likely to become a Mujtahid and utilize his knowledge to solve contemporary Fiqh issues and lead his society in reformation.

Why it matters

While studying on this level is not obligatory, it is definitely beneficial and something that the ummah is in dire need off today.

We live in a time when the majority of Muslims are confused and do not have scholars who are qualified to solve their problems. The current generation of students need to make it their objective to grow into such scholars.

We need to dedicate our lives to going beyond what is expected of us and to go deeper into every field we study. Our objective being to benefit the ummah through that knowledge.

How to go deeper

There are many ways to go deeper into a field while studying the textbook with your teacher. The following are some of the most practical methods:

1) Study longer hours than the average student. There is big difference between someone who studies two hours a day and someone who studies five hours a day. The latter is likely to end up with more than double the knowledge of the former in the same time-frame. Make it a habit to go the distance and dedicate extra time to study.

2) Ask a lot of questions. The leading students of knowledge throughout history were known as inquisitive students before they become scholars.

Even among the companions, Ayesha Bint Abi Bakr (RA) and Abu Hurairah (RA) were known for asking deeper questions. This led to them become the leading scholars of their generation. The same method applies today. If you want to understand a concept deeper, ask your teachers the kind of questions that will give you a stronger understanding of the topic.

3) Study beyond the textbook. Ask your teachers or the senior students for recommended resources in the field that you are studying, make it a point and study those resources.

If there are four famous books on a topic, don’t limit yourself to the one prescribed as your textbook. Make time to read the other three as well. Studying such resources will give you a deeper understanding of the topic as well as open your eyes to differences of opinion and different approaches.

4) Attend supplementary classes. Research and find other classes on the topic you are studying, even if it means requesting a scholar to teach you a deeper book privately. Many scholars teach private classes outside their work time for the dedicated students and will be happy to accommodate such a request.

5) Never stop studying. This final point is crucial. Many people never study beyond the curriculum for the rest of their lives and are content with the introductory level courses. This limits your ability to benefit from your knowledge or benefit others with it.

In order to become a true scholar of Islam, you must embark of a life-long journey of seeking knowledge. You must be dedicated to being a student of knowledge for life. The thirst for knowledge should never feel quenched. There should always be a desire to learn more, to understand deeper, and to get closer to Allah through such knowledge.

Written by Shaykh Ismail Kamdar. Shaykh Ismail has spent almost two decades studying Islam and is the author of multiple books. All his ebooks can be found here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 4 comments

7 Awesome Study Hacks You Don’t Want To Miss!

Study Hacks

7 Study Hacks

7 Awesome Study Hacks You Don’t Want To Miss!

Studying for anything is a major cause of stress for most people. Too many people stress, study all night and still perform poorly. But have you ever noticed that some people rarely study, yet still ace their tests? What study hacks do they know that you don’t?

As someone who rarely needs to study anything twice, I’m going to share with you just a few of my favorite study hacks. These are things I’ve been doing all my life that help memorize and remember things fast.

Here are my seven favorite study hacks!

1. Watch a YouTube video about it

This simple technique has helped me understand remember things much faster than cramming over a textbook. I used this technique especially when studying psychology. Whenever a new theory is covered, I would simply watch a short YouTube video about it. YouTube videos tend to be short, colorful, fun and memorable.

This helps you understand and remember a new concept much faster!

Commonly used for: Summary Of Theories, Practical Demonstrations, Book Recaps.

2. Make Your Notes Exciting

Notes don’t have to be boring. Find ways to spice them up. Use a variety of colors. Use mind-maps. Draw pictures and diagrams. Write in multiple languages. There are so many ways to make note taking more exciting. The more fun you have taking down notes, the easier it will be to remember and recall those notes when needed.

Next time you are taking down notes, get creative and spice them up!

Commonly used for: Terminology, Theories, History

3. Teach It To Someone

This is my personal favorite method to remember anything. As soon as I learn something new, I find someone to explain it to. This serves three purposes: If you can explain, it means you understand it. Explaining something out loud actually helps you understand it better. And once you teach it, it is difficult to forget it.

Having a tough time remembering a new concept, try teaching it to a friend or family member!

Commonly used for: just about anything!

4. Reward Yourself

Treat yourself! Tell yourself if I learn this, I will treat myself to ______ (insert your favorite thing here). This has a huge psychological impact and will motivate your brain to remember it faster!

Just be careful not to treat yourself too often to unhealthy snacks. You want a big brain, without a big belly to accompany it!

Commonly used for: subjects you hate studying!

5. Take A Nap

I love this tip because it is so completely opposite to what most of us expect!

I discovered this when studying psychology. Sleep helps solidify information in long term memory. So if you nap straight after an intensive study session, your brain will transfer the information from your short term memory to your long term memory where it could last a lifetime!

Finding it hard to remember something, literally sleep on it.

Commonly used for: any subject you have a hard time remembering

6. Study in 20 minute Sessions

One key reason you are not remembering your work is because you push your brain to study for too long. To remember things faster, simply break up your study sessions into 20 minute blocks. Each block followed by a short 5-10 minute break to do something fun (or nap!).

This applies to work as well, by the way. Work in 20-50 minute blocks to keep your brain functioning optimally throughout the day.

Commonly used for: intensive study sessions

7. Never cram or pull an all-nighter

We’ve all experienced it. We stayed up all night studying for an exam, only to go blank the minute the paper starts.

What happened?

Cramming stores information in our short term memory, so it may last until after the test or just before it. Either way, you are not going to remember it a week later, leave alone for life.

Cramming also affects our brain’s capacity by not giving us enough sleep. Without enough sleep, not only is information not transferred to long term memory, but your brain doesn’t get enough rest. Leaving you not functioning optimally exam time.

Avoid cramming. Studying for 20 minute sessions with naps and reward breaks over a one week period instead. This will help you remember things better, not just for the exam, but for life.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Life Hacks, 7 comments