“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge” Surat Taha (20): 114
Knowledge of Usul Ad-Deen: This topic deals with the Aqeedah of the Muslims. It places a strong importance on Allah’s existence. Some scholars have titled this study, “Fiqhul Akbar”, while others call it Tawheed and Sifat.
• Knowledge of Ahl Bid’ahs’ speech: This topic covers the statements said from the people of misguidance in regards to Aqeedah. This topic is based on the Prophet’s(sallAllahu alayhi wa salam) saying: “this Ummah will divide up into 73 groups”. Sharsattan wrote an outstanding book covering the belief of these cults titled, “ Al-Millal wan Nahal” and Khabeethatu Al-Akwan fi Iftiraq al-Ummam ala Mathahab wal Adyan.”
• Knowledge of Jarh wa Ta’dil: The information found in this science covers the praise and criticisms of narrators through specific definitions. It’s a science that is closely related to the narrators of hadith. Jarh wa Ta’dil was performed by the Prophet, his companions, and the Tabe’oon. The scholars hold it permissible to practice in order to preserve the religion; thus it shouldn’t be considered as slander. The same ways it is permissible to discredit a witness’s testimony, it’s permissible to discredit a narrator of hadith. The first scholar to embark on this science was Shu’bah ibn Al-Hujjaj then Yahya ibn Sa’eed. The first scholar to gather the statements of Jarh wa Ta’dil was Yahya ibn Sa’eed Al-Qahtan, followed by Yahya ibn Ma’een, and then Ali ibn Madeeni, and next Ahmed ibn Hanbal. Among the earliest books written in Jarh wa Ta’dil was by Abul Hasan Ahmed Al-Ajli Tripoli (61H). The most comprehensive books of Jarh wa Ta’dil are Al-Kamal by Ibn ‘Adee, Mezan by Ath-Thahhabi, and Lisan by Ibn Hajr.
• Knowledge of the Prophets: This science is an offshoot from History. Scholars in the past gave some service to this science by writing books specifically covering this topic, for example: (stories of the Prophet) by Ibn Jawzi and others.
• Knowledge of the Prophet’s etiquettes: It’s obligatory to be familiar with this kind of information. Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me…..[Al-Imran 31] The Prophet (SallAllahu alayhi was salam) frequently asked Allah to bless him with excellent moral conduct and manners. The best written book on this subject is “Zadul Ma’ad” by Ibn Al-Qayyim and Safrus Sa’adah by Majd Al-Fayrouz Aa-badi.
• Knowledge of Allah’s Names & Attributes: This includes being aware with their meanings and to refrain from denying their meanings. Al-Booni said: It’s through Allah’s Names the servant is able to receive what he asks for and attain what he wishes.
• Knowledge about the narrators of Hadith: This is a part of Hadith science which includes being familiar with their, Kunyas’, Fathers’ names and grandfathers’ names and even the nicknames they were given. Well-known books by Ad-Daruqutni, Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi, Imam Muslim, AliAl-Madani were written covering this topic.
• Knowledge about reliable and unreliable narrators of Hadith: This knowledge is the greatest and most comprehensive. It aides in knowing if a hadith is authentic or unauthentic. The scholars of hadith have dedicated their time in writing books specifically for the reliable narrators. For example Ibn Shaheen, Ibn Hibban(354H),Al-Ajli all wrote a book called; (Kitabu At-Thiqat.)
• Knowledge about Arabic Grammar: This topic covers the way sentences are properly structured. The person who understands this topic is able to write correctly and express himself coherently. The first person to write about explaining Arabic Grammar was Abu Aswad Ad-Du’li.
• Knowledge about the reasons why Hadith were said: This science covers the hadith which were revealed along with the time and the place they were mentioned. There are numerous books written about this topic, so many you can’t count them.
• Knowledge about Supplications offered to Allah: This topic addresses supplications narrated and collected. It makes a distinction between what’s authentic and what’s not. This area also deals with the times the supplications are said, the amount of times they are to be repeated and the special rewards earned for saying certain Dua. The key reason for learning this ilm is to learn how to attain your goals in this life and in the afterlife. There are numerous books written about this topic with , “Athkar” by Imam An-Nawawi being the best. In fact it’s said: “Sell your house and buy Athkar”.
• Knowledge about the Isnad: Sometimes this subject is referred to as “Usul Al-Hadith”. It’s through this science the ranking of Hadith are known to be either Sahih or Da’eef.
• Knowledge about Usul Al-Hadith: Often times this subject matter is referred to as” Ilm Riwiyah”, but Usul Al-Hadith is a more suitable title for this subject. The focus here is to know the Isnad, Matn, along with the wording and meaning of the Hadith. The knowledge of how hadith are written and communicated are taken account in Usul Al-Hadith. Ibn Hajr believed the words Khabr and Athar are one and the same with the word Hadith. There are two books written by Muhammad ibn Isam’il Al-Amir As-San’ani which are an excellent reference for this subject ; Isbal Al-Matr and Tawdeehul Ath-Kar. As-Suyuti wrote Tadreeb Ar-Rawee and Ibn Kathir Al-Ikhtsar and these books are excellent resources as well.
• Knowledge about the names of the Quran and Its Chapters: You should be aware that there are 55 names for the Quran. There are some Surahs in the Quran which have one, two or more names. The more names given to something the more it increases its value. For example Al-Fatihah has 20 or more names. As-Suyuti studied this topic in his book, “ Al-Itqan”
• Knowledge about the manners for reciting the Quran: A large amount of scholars have written about this topic. Imam An-Nawawi wrote a book called , “ Al-Bayyan” in which he mentioned 30 plus manners for reading the Quran.
• Knowledge about the superiority of the Quran: The first person to write about this subject was Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Idriss Ash-Shafa’I followed Abul Abbass Ja’far Al-Mustaghafari along with Ibn Abee Shaybah and Abee Ubayd Al-Qassim.
• Knowledge about the explanations of Hadith: This is a category of Hadith in which numerous scholars collected 40 hadith and explained them based on a weak Hadith. “Whoever from this Ummah memorizes forty hadith, I will intercede on his behalf on the Day of Judgment.” Scholars didn’t only explain the books of the 4o hadith but, there are some who gave importance to the 6 books of hadith along with other books of Hadith collection.i.e Bulugh Al-Maram & Muntaqa Al-Akbar.
• Knowledge for Tajweed of the Quran: This knowledge covers the proper recitation for the Quran, and the ways letters are pronounced. The first scholar to write about teaching Tajweed for the Quran was Musa ibn Ubaydillah Al-Baghdadi (325H).
• Knowledge about the wise sayings of the righteous and pious: The information in this science is a part of history. Many ulema placed importance on this topic. One of the most famous books written for this subject was from Ibn Jawzi, “al-sufa `ala al-safa”
• Knowledge about Usul Al-Fiqh: This knowledge educates the student with the necessary tools to derive Islamic verdicts based on evidences. It is connected to Arabic, Hadith, Tafsir and language. Usul Al-Fiqh is based on four pillars for its proof: Quran, Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas. The first person to write a book about this subject was Imam Ash-Shafa’I , “ Ar-Risalah”.
• Knowledge about Aqsamul Quran: Imam As-Suytuti (911H) included this as a separate science in his book al-Itqan. The intended purpose of this study is to be familiar with the swearing done in the Quran. Allah swears in the Quran using Himself in 7 places throughout His book, and in the rest of the places He swears by His creation. Ibn Qayyim wrote a book covering this topic in great detail called – ( At-Tibyan).
• Knowledge of Zuhd and War’a : Az-Zuhd is to turn away from this worldly life and Al-War’a refers to abandoning the Halal out of fear of falling into misgivings. It’s also said that Az-Zuhd means to avoid all doubtful things out of fear of falling into the Haraam. Imam Al-Ghazali wrote an excellent book on this subject.
• Knowledge of Naskh and Mansukh of the Quran : It’s not allowed for anyone to embark on doing Tafsir of Quran, unless they are aware of the abrogated and what abrogates. Some the scholars who wrote books for this subject were, Abu Ubdayd Al-Qassim, Abu Dawud As-Sijistani,and Ibn Al-Arabi.
• Knowledge of Tarikh (History): This theme covers the events that happened in the past, situations related to people, groups and countries. The birth and death of leaders, famous Muslim scholars, poets and even the events of the Prophets. There are roughly about 1300 books authored on this subject. Among the most commonly known are; Ibn Kathir- (Al-Bidiyah wan-Nihiya), Ibn Jarir- (Tarikh), and his is among the most authentic books of History. Then Tarikh Ibn Al-Athir- (Al-Kamil), and Tarikh Al-Kabir from Imam Ath-Thahhabi.
• Knowledge about the Hisotry of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs: This is a part of History, however numerous scholars have specifically written books dedicated to the life, and events of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (May Allah be pleased with them all). The most noted book was written by Imam As-Suyuti (911H).
• Knowledge about the weak and abandoned narrators: Imam Al-Bukhari was among the first to write about those narrators’ condition, followed by Imam An-Nisa’I. Both of their books are titled, “Ad-Du’afa”. Then later on the in 6th century Ibn Jawzi (597H) produced an excellent work that Imam Ath-Thahhabi made some corrections to.
• Knowledge about Maghazi: The first one to compile a book about the military expeditions of the Prophet (SallAllahu alayhi wa salam) was Ibn Ishaq. Wahab ibn Munabah also compiled narrations about this subject. This topic is very interesting and beneficial, but the stories must be narrated by way of authentic chains through trustworthy men. The best book written about Maghazi was penned by Ibn Hisham.
• Knowledge about the Tabaqat: Every field of study in Islam has a book authored about its class, status and generation. For example there is Tabaqat, Al-Hanafiyah, Al-Malikiyah, Ash-Shafa’eeyah, and Al-Hanabala. There are books about the Tabaqat of Hufath for Hadith, Tabaqat Al-Mufasareen, and Tabaqat Al-Usuleeyeen, and so forth.
The evidence is overwhelming that the sciences of Islam are vast and too many to include in a small article like this one here. Islam is a complete religion that addresses each aver aspect of a man’s life needed for his worship, interactions and health. Al-Alamah Sadiq Hasan Khan detailed each one of these branches in “ Abjadu Ulum” so, for further detail refer back to this book.
Translated by: Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle