Archive for March 20th, 2012

How did you gain all this knowledge?



The Statement of al-Sha’bi

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah,


Several years ago, I stumbled across this statement of Imam al-Sha’bi and ever since then, it’s almost become my motto for life! I recently used it in a course I was delivering and thought to post it up here as well for general benefit.

Imam al-Sha’bi was a scholar known for his deep ‘ilm and having a vast coverage over various fields of knowledge.

In the book ‘Uluww al-Himmah by Shaykh Muhammad Isma’il al-Muqaddam, it states that Imam al-Sha’bi was once asked, ‘How did you attain all this knowledge?’ And this was his reply. Pay close attention to it:

بنفي الاعتماد و السير في البلاد و صبر كصبر الحمار و بكور كبكور الغراب

“By independency, by travelling through cities, by having patience like that of a donkey and by rising early like the rising of crows.”

There’s so much to take away from this, but here are a few points of benefit that we can derive:

  • Be independent in your studies. Don’t rely on someone or something to always motivate you and push you to learn.
  • Learn how to motivate yourself! Be free from distractions and limitations.
  • Do not procrastinate.
  • Travel! Keep on the move! Go from A to B, then B to C! Don’t be stagnant in your life; always have a peak that you’re reaching for.
  • If knowledge is not in your immediate vicinity, seek it out and go to where it is!
  • Be patient. More patient than the donkey overloaded with cargo. Bear all the hardships on this path, bear the trials and tribulations.
  • Get up early! The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘My Ummah has been blessed in its early portion (of the day).’ Seek out the blessings of the morning. Tips for Time Management are in this hadith! You may not have time during the day, but you’ll always have time in the mornings.
  • Give yourself no excuses, because most of the time an excuse is a barrier that you place between you and your goals.


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