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In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Al-Allaamah Ubaid Bin Abdillaah Al-Jaabiri [may Allaah have mercy upon him] was asked: Is it permissible for the one who seeks knowledge from some Shaikh – by way of books and audios – to say to him [i.e. the Shaikh], “Our Shaikh” and thus he becomes a Shaikh of his?

Answer: There’s no harm in considering someone as one’s Shaikh, but I bring your attention to the fact that there are two ways of acquiring knowledge. The first path: Seeking knowledge in person and sitting to acquire knowledge from the scholar directly- sitting in his presence, learn good manners from him and good Tarbiyah. This is the ideal way and the loftiest. This is the way of the Sahaabah in acquiring knowledge from their Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] – those who were with him in Madeenah and those who travelled to him. They acquired knowledge directly from the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] and taught their people. Likewise, this is how the Taabi’oon acquired knowledge from the Sahaabah- took knowledge (directly) from the Sahaabah, especially the seniors. Likewise, those who followed the Taabi’een did the same up to this era of ours. This is the correct and loftiest path of acquiring knowledge from a Shaikh.

The second path: It is to acquire knowledge from books and audios. There is no harm in this and it benefits, but it does not contain that which is found in the first method; rather it is for a woman and the one who is unable because of the difficulty in reaching the Shaikh due to distance, because one might not be able to sit in the presence of a scholar even in his own country. Not all women are able – some are sometimes able and unable at other times, and some are not able. So, these people benefit (i.e. from the books & tapes), but also they are not advised to enter into challenging (or very difficult) issues related to differences of opinion between the scholars; rather they entrust those affairs to the people of knowledge.

And whoever is a teacher – one who gives instructions in knowledge or an Imaam of a Masjid in his city district or town, we advise him to be at the service of the people and that he takes those questions of theirs which he is able to answer and respond to them in his city district. And those questions that carry difference of opinion and requires investigation, he offers his services to the people by sending those questions to the people of knowledge and take answers from them. This is a good service with regards to the Muslim helping another Muslim. [paraphrased] (1)

Beware of the disease of the despots; (a) for indeed pride, avarice and (blameworthy) envy were the first (sins) Allaah was disobeyed with.(b) So, raising yourself above your teacher is pride (c); being arrogant towards the one who benefits you from amongst those who are below you is pride; (d) and your falling short in acting upon knowledge is a sludge of pride and an indication of being deprived.(c)

[a] The Prophet said: Pride is to reject the truth and mock at the people.

[b] This refers to shaytaan’s behaviour when he was commanded to prostrate to Aadam, but pride prevented him from doing so. He refused and was haughty.

[c] Raising oneself can either be by way of the tongue and it can also be by way of sentiments [feelings, attitude, behaviour etc]. He [i.e. the student] might be walking with his teacher, whilst swaggering and saying, “I did this and I did this”.

[d] Likewise, being arrogant towards the one who is below you in knowledge is pride. This also occurs from some of the students, and if someone below him in knowledge informs him of something, you find him arrogant and does not accept.

[e] We ask Allaah for well-being because from the types of pride is to not act upon the knowledge one knows. (2)

Ref 1:

أحسن الله إليكم يقول السائل: هل يجوز لمن طلب العلم عن شيخٍ ما عن طريق الكتب والأشرطة أن يقول له شيخنا ويكون شيخًا له؟
الانتساب إلى المَشْيَخَة لا بأس، لكن أنا أُنَبِّه إلى أنَّ تحصيل العلم له طريقان:

· الطريقُ الأولى: طريقة المشافهة والمُجَالسة؛ وهي التَّلقي عن العالم مباشرة؛ الجلوس بين يَدَيْه، وتَعَلُّم منه العلم والسَّمت الحَسَن والتَّربية الحَسَنة، هذه الطريقة المُثْلَى والعُلْيَا، وهذه طريقة الصحابة في أَخْذِهم عن نبيهم – صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم- من كانوا معه في المدينة، ومن يفدوا عليه من غيرهم يأخذون العلم مباشرة عن النبي – صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم- ويُعَلِّمون قومهم، وكذلك التابعون مع الصحابة؛ يأخذون عن الصحابة لاسيما الأكابر، وكذلك أتباع التابعين إلى اليوم، هذه المَشْيَخَة الصَّحيحة والمَشْيَخَة العُلْيَا.
· الثانية: طريق التَّلقي عن طريق الكتب أو الأشرطة هذه لا بأس تُفيد؛ لكن ليس فيها مثل ما في الطريقة الأولى، وهذه لا يُنصَحُ بها كُلُّ أحد، يُنْصَح بها العاجز لبعد الشُّقة والمرأة؛ فإنها لا تستطيع أن تجلس إلى العالم حتى وإن كانت في بلدته، ما كُل النِّساء يستطعن، وبعضهن تستطيع حينًا وتنقطع آخر، وبعضهن لا تقدر؛ فهؤلاء يُفيدون، لكن يُنصحون أيضًا بأن لا يخوضون في المسائل الخلافية العويصة، يَكِلُونها إلى أهل العلم، ومن كان مُدَرِّسًا ومُعَلِّمًا أو إمام مسجد يُلْقِي في حَيِّهِ أو قريته فإِنَّا نوصيه بخدمتهم وهو أنه يَتَلَقَّى أسئلتهم التي يقدر على إجابتها فيجيب في حينه، والتي فيها اختلاف ومحل نظر يخدمهم بتوصيلها إلى أهل العلم، وأخذ الجواب عنهم، فهذه خدمة جَيِّدة من عَوْنِ المُسْلِم للمُسْلِم. نعم.

[Ref 2: An Excerpt from ‘Sharh Hilyati Taalibil Ilm’ pages 38-40′ by Shaikh Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). slightly paraphrased]

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