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Important books for the seeker of Islamic knowledge

Important books for the seeker of Islamic knowledge

We would like some advice about the books which the seeker of Islamic knowledge should obtain, study and refer to.

 :- Sheikh Munajid  Reference Islam QA

Praise be to Allaah.  

1 – ‘Aqeedah (basic tenets of faith): 

1-   Thalaathat al-Usool

2-   Al-Qawaa’id al-Arba’ah

3-   Kashf al-Shubahaat

4-   Al-Tawheed

These four books were written by Shaykh al-Islam Imaam Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him). 

5-    Al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyahwhich deals with Tawheed al-Asmaa’ wa’l-Sifaat (The Oneness of the Divine names and attributes). This is one of the best books written on this topic, and it is worth reading and studying.

6-   Al-Hamawiyyah

7-   Al-Tadmuriyyah

These two books are more comprehensive thanal-Waasitiyyah. These three books were written by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. 

8-    Al-‘Aqeedah al-Tahhaawiyyah, by Shaykh Abu Ja’far Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahhaawi

9-    Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Tahhaawiyyahby Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Abi’l-‘Izz

10-Al-Durar al-Saniyyah fi’l-Ajoobah al-Najdiyyah, compiled by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Qaasim (may Allaah have mercy on him)

11-Al-Durrah al-Madiyyah fi ‘Aqeedah al-Firqah al-Mardiyyahby Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Safaareeni al-Hanbali. 

This book contains some general statements which go against the madhhab of the salaf, such as his saying, “Our Lord is not an essence or an attribute or a physical entity, exalted be He.” 

Therefore the seeker of knowledge has to study it with a shaykh who is well versed in the ‘aqeedah of the salaf, so that he can explain the general statements in it that go against the ‘aqeedah of the righteous salaf. 

2 – Hadeeth 

1-    Fath al-Baari Sharh Saheeh al-Bukhaari, by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani (may Allaah have mercy on him).

2-    Subul al-Salaam Sharh Buloogh al-Maraam, by al-San’aani, and his bookJaami’ bayna al-Hadeeth wa’l-Fiqh

3-    Nayl al-Awtaar Sharh Muntaqaa al-Akhbaarby al-Shawkaani

4-    ‘Umdat al-Ahkaamby al-Maqdisi. This is an abridged book; most of its ahaadeeth are narrated inal-Saheehaynso their authenticity does not need to be researched.

5-    Al-Arba’een al-Nawawiyyah, by Abu Zakariyya al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is a good book because it includes etiquette and a good methodology, and important basic principles, such as the hadeeth, “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”

(Narrated by Imaam Ahmad, 1 – 201; al-Tirmidhi, 2318; classed as hasan by al-Nawawi inRiyaadh al-Saaliheen, 73; classed as saheeh by Ahmad Shaakir inal-Musnad, 1737)

This principle – if one made it the path upon which one walks – would be sufficient. Another principle is given concerning when one should speak, “Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day, let him say something good or else remain silent.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari,Kitaab al-Adab; Muslim,Kitaab al-Luqtah, Baab al-Diyaafah).

6-    Buloogh al-Maraam, by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani. This is a very useful book, especially because it mentions the narrators, and quoted the opinions of others scholars, who said whose hadeeth is saheeh and whose is da’eef, and he comments on the hadeeth to say whether they are saheeh or da’eef.

7-    Nukhbat al-Fikr  by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani. This is considered to be a comprehensive work. If the seeker of knowledge understands it completely then he will have no need of many other books of mustalah (the science of hadeeth). Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) has a useful way of writing, which involves examining every issue in depth and categorizing the topics he discusses. If the seeker of knowledge reads it he will find it stimulating, because it is based on making one think. I say: it is good for the seeker of knowledge to memorize it because it is a useful summary of the science of mustalah (science of hadeeth).

8-     The Six Books (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Muslim, al-Nasaa’i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and al-Tirmidhi). I advise the seeker of knowledge to read them often, because that will serve two purposes: reviewing the main sources of Islam and reviewing the names of hadeeth narrators. If you often review the names of hadeeth narrators, then whenever you come across the name of one of the narrators of al-Bukhaari in any isnaad, you will know that this is one of the narrators of al-Bukhaari, so you will benefit from this knowledge of hadeeth. 

3 – Books of fiqh: 

1-    Aadaab al-mashiy ila’l-Salaahby Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him)

2-    Zaad al-Mustaqni’ fi Ikhtisaar al-Muqni’by al-Hajjaawi. This is one of the best texts of fiqh. It is a blessed book, brief and comprehensive. Our shaykh, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) told us to memorize it, even though he had memorized the text ofDaleel al-Taalib.

3-    Al-Rawd al-Murbi’ Sharh Zaad al-Mustaqni’by Shaykh Mansoor al-Bahooti

4-    ‘Umdat al-Fiqhby Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him)

5-    al-Usool min ‘Ilm al-Usool. This is an abridged book which serves as an introduction for the seeker of knowledge. 

4 – Faraa’id (laws of inheritance) 

1-    Matn al-Rahbiyyahby al-Rahbi

2-    Matn al-Burhaaniyyahby Muhammad al-Burhaani. This is a useful and comprehensive abridged book dealing with all the laws of inheritance. I think thatal-Burhaaniyyahis more comprehensive thanal-Rahbiyyahin some ways, and it gives more information. 

5 – Tafseer 

1-    Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeemby Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him). This book is good for tafseer based on reports and it is useful and trustworthy. But it does pay much attention to matters of grammar and style.

2-    Tayseer al-Kareem al-Rahmaan fi Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaanby Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is a good, easy and trustworthy book, and I recommend it.

3-    Muqaddimah Shaykh al-Islam fi’l-Tafseer. This is an important introduction.

4-    Adwaa’ al-Bayaanby al-‘Allaamah Muhammad al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is a comprehensive book covering hadeeth, fiqh, tafseer and usool al-fiqh. 

6 – General books on some subjects: 

1-     On (Arabic) grammar:Matn al-Ajroomiyyah. This is an abridged book.

2-     Also on Arabic grammar:Alfiyyah Ibn Maalik; this is a summary of the science of grammar.

3-     On Seerah (Prophet’s biography): The best book that I have seen isZaad al-Ma’aadby Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is a very useful book in which he mentions the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) from all angels, then he discusses many rulings.

4-    Rawdat al-‘Uqalaa’by Ibn Hibbaan al-Busti (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is a useful book despite its brevity. He compiled a large amount of useful material and stories of the scholars, muhadditheen and others.

5-    Siyar A’laam al-Nubalaa’by al-Dhahabi. This book is very useful and the seeker of knowledge should read and refer to it. 

From Fataawa al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, p. 92

How to seek knowledge


What does one need to become a scholar of Islam?

You have asked about a serious matter, but it is easy for the one whom Allaah enables to do it. Knowledge is a sign of guidance. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If Allaah wants to do good to a person, He gives him understanding of the religion.” This is understood to mean that whoever Allaah does not wish good for, He does not give him understanding of the religion. 

Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Chapter: it is essential to know a thing first before saying or acting upon it, according to the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):  

‘So know (O Muhammad) that Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah),’

[Muhammad 47:19] 

So one should start with knowledge. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, i.e., they inherit knowledge. Whoever gains knowledge has gained great good fortune, and whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allaah will make easy for him the path to Paradise. Allaah said (interpretation of the meaning): 

‘It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allaah’

[Faatir 35:28]

And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

‘but none will understand them except those who have knowledge’

[al-‘Ankaboot 29:43]

‘And they will say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!”’

[al-Mulk 67:10]

And He said: 

‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’

[al-Zumar 39:9]

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Knowledge is gained by striving for it.” 

Ibn ‘Abbaas said: ‘Be faithful slaves to your Lord, patient and learned.’ And it is said that the good instructor is the one who starts teaching people simple matters of knowledge before more difficult ones.” 

It was narrated that Qays ibn Katheer said: “A man came from Madeenah to Abu’l-Darda’ in Damascus and he said, ‘What brought you here, my brother?’ He said, ‘A hadeeth which I have heard that you narrate from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’ He said, ‘Have you come for any other reason?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Have you come for trade?’ He said, ‘No. I have only come to seek this hadeeth.’ He said, ‘I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, “Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, Allaah will make easy for him the path to Paradise. The angels beat their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and those who are in the heavens and on earth pray for forgiveness for the scholar, even the fish in the water. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind dinars or dirhams, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever gains knowledge has gained great good fortune.’” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2606; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani). 

These are some of the virtues of knowledge, and this is just a drop in the ocean. If we were to mention all the virtues of knowledge, it would take too long. Perhaps what we have mentioned here will serve as a reminder to the one who has a heart or gives ear whilst he is heedful (cf. Qaaf 50:37). See Question no.10471

With regard to the way to gain knowledge, it is to fear Allaah (taqwa) and to be aware that He is always watching, in secret and in the open. Then one should learn from the scholars whose knowledge and religious commitment can be trusted. If you find a scholar who meets this description, then cling to him and consult him in order to gain knowledge. If you cannot find a scholar, then look for a seeker of knowledge (taalib‘ilm), and if you cannot find such a person, then you must study by using tapes and books that deal with the basic issues of Islam according to the correct methodology of sharee’ah.

How to seek knowledge

If you ask, what are the books that we should study? 

The answer is:  

First of all you should take a gradual approach to acquiring Islamic knowledge. For each branch of knowledge there are specific books. The first thing you should study should be ‘aqeedah(basic tenets of faith, doctrine), then the sciences which will help you to understand the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), such as Arabic grammar,usool al-fiqh,mustalahal-hadeeth, thenfiqhandTafseer… before all of that you should start by memorizing Qur’aan, because all other branches of knowledge are studied to help one to reach a correct understanding of the Qur’aan. 

Here we will give you a list of books, organized in order of priority. 

On ‘Aqeedah: start with the bookal-Usool al-Thalaathah[available in English as “The Three Fundamental Bases of Islamic Theology”], thenKitaab al-Tawheed[available in English as “Kitab al-Tauhid”], thenKashf al-Shubuhaat, all by Shaykh Muahmmad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab. Then readKitaab al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah[also available in English as “Principles of Islamic Faith”] by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. 

After studying and understanding these books, move on toKitaab al-Ajrumiyyah, on Arabic grammar, thenKitaab al-Usool fi ‘Ilm al-Usool, on usool al-fiqh, thenKitaab Usool al-Tafseer– both by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen, may Allaah have mercy on him. Then studyal-Arba’een al-Nawawiyyah[al-Nawawi’s 40 Hadeeth, available in English in several translations] on hadeeth, then ‘Umdat al-Ahkaam, also on hadeeth. Then start studying fiqh, and it is OK to study the fiqh texts of any of the recognized schools of thought, such asBidaayat al-Saalikeen, ‘Umdat al-Fiqh,Matan Abi Shujaa’, andMatan Khaleel. We do not want you to be biased towards any of the madhhabs, rather your study should be organized and based on the well-established principles, so that your pursuit of knowledge will be enhanced and you will follow the evidence, not be biased towards any particular madhhab.  

It should be noted that the books mentioned above are to be studied so that you memorize and understand them. Try to get hold of tapes of the scholars who have commented on these books, such as Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Jibreen, and others. 

After studying fiqh, read two books on Tafseer. Start withTayseer al-Kareem al-Rahmaan fi tafseer kalaam al-Mannaanby Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him), and Tafseer Ibn Katheer [an abridged version in 10 volumes is available in English]. 

These are the most important books which the seeker of knowledge should study. When you have finished them, there are more advanced books which we will tell you about when you have finished these books. Keep in touch with us.

Sheikh Saleh Al Munajid –Islam QA FATHWA


Last modified onThursday, 06 August 2015 11:47
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