Skills for Success as a Student
Success as a student only comes if one assesses what they are bringing to the learning experience. As a student, you must be aware of not only your study skills, but the presumed philosophies about education, the teacher-student relationship, on line learning, traditional learning and your history as a student/learner.
Many of us find that public schooling has left us without understanding of what 'education' truly is.
Our natural love of learning, which Allah placed in our fitra as human beings, has been covered up. It is important to understand that the experience of education is different than schooling, and one must rid oneself of the negative impact public education has had on us. A good reading for this is John Taylor Gatto's "7-lesson School Teacher" which can be found at http://www.worldtrans.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt
In drawing nearer to Allah, we draw nearer to our fitra, and our love of learning.
In deciding to become a student with SunniPath Academy, you have taken the initiative to learn the traditional knowledge presented here. As the student, you are responsible for completing the readings, doing necessary research, asking questions and keeping an open line of communication with your teachers.
There are neither grades nor any responsibilities to any of the staff or teachers. As Imam Zarnuji states in Instruction of the Student, the purpose of study is to
".strive for the pleasure of God, the abode of the Hereafter, the removal of ignorance from himself and from the rest of the ignorant, and revival of religion, and the survival of Islam." (Zarnuji, p. 5)
We at SunniPath Academy highly recommend that you read Imam Al-Zarnuji's book in its entirety.
As a starting point, here are a few of the methods of learning Imam Al-Zarnuji recommends to students. Each point is expounded upon in great detail in the book:
- Pure intention, sincerity, and high resolve
- Seeking Allah's assistance, through earnest supplication. Among the Qur'anic supplications for seeking knowledge is, "O Lord, increase me in knowledge." [Rabbi zidni `ilma]
- Respecting knowledge and those who have it, for the sake of Allah.
- Earnestness, perseverance and diligence in the pursuit of learning
- Being organized and not overwhelming oneself-rather, to strive for consistency.
- Relying on Allah entirely.
- Choosing the best times for study, which are those went one's mind is clear and one does not have other distractions-such as dawn and late evening.
- Take notes, in all lessons you attend, and of all beneficial knowledge you hear or read. In this way your knowledge will be firm. If you try to just memorize, it will flee.
- Be wary of what you eat, that it is pure and not contaminated, both physically and spiritually.
- Be wary of falling into idleness, excessive sleep, or wasting time through idle talk.
- Sit facing the Qibla, whenever possible.
How to increase memory
Memorizing and retaining knowledge is a skill. Like other skills, it takes practice to perfect. The following are some of the recommendations of scholars:
- Be industrious and committed
- Be patient, repeat what you are trying to memorize, and then review it regularly
- Try to memorize when you mind is clear of concerns
- Reduce your eating
- Increase night prayer
- Read Quran
- Send blessings on the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)
- Use a siwak
The Companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), Mu`adh ibn Jabal (Allah be pleased with him) said,
"Acquire knowledge because doing so is good. Seeking it is worship. Reviewing it is glorifying Allah. Researching it is jihad. Teaching it to the ignorant is charity.
Serving the scholars is a way of drawing near to Allah because knowledge is the path of ascension to the stations of Paradise . It is a companion in isolation and a comrade in distant lands. It speaks to you in solitude. It is a guide to prosperity and a shield against adversity. It beautifies one among friends and is a weapon against enemies. With it Allah elevates people and makes them guides and bellwethers of good.
"The scholars are people whose words are sought and whose actions are imitated. The angels long for the scholar's company and comfort them with their wings. Everything, the fish of the sea, the beasts of the earth, the predators of the land and sea, and the cattle pray that blessings come upon him.
"This is because knowledge enlivens the heart against ignorance, illuminates the eyes against darkness, and strengthens the body. It transports the servants to the mansions of the select and the righteous and to the highest ranks in the world and in the Hereafter. Contemplating it is equivalent to fasting, and reviewing it is equivalent to the Night Prayer vigil. With it, kinship is united and the lawful is distinguished from the unlawful. Knowledge is an imam which leads to righteous actions. It is craved by the people destined for Paradise and shunned by people destined for Hell."
Source: al-Hanbali, Imam Ibn Rajab (d. 1392 CE). The Heirs of the Prophets (translated by Imam Zaid Shakir, pg. 37-38. Chicago , U.S.A. : Starlatch Press, 2001).