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May Allah be good to you. What are the best ways in reading the books and the writings of the Imāms of the da’wah?”
Shaykh Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Azīz Aal-Shaykh
All Praise is for Allah the Lord of the Worlds.
First of all, it is necessary to take things gradually as done by the scholars. It is necessary to study treatises in gradual steps, starting with the small treatises, then the more extensive ones and so on, all in accordance to the situation and circumstance.
Likewise, it is necessary [when studying these books] to refer to a scholar – who understands the words of the scholars of the Salafiyah call – to explain and clarify them.
Yes, it is correct that knowledge is present and perhaps one may have been bestowed with some understanding, nonetheless, it a must refer to a scholar.
One of the best statements made in this regard was by ash-Shāṭibī who said; “Knowledge used to be in the hearts of men, then it appeared in books, nevertheless the keys knowledge continue to remain in the hands of men.”
Knowledge is available in books, but who will make you understand these books? It cannot happen without a well-grounded scholar.
Today you see many people who ascribe to da’wah whilst they use statements of the scholars as proof erroneously – either in the issue of excommunication (declaring someone as an unbeliever) or revolting against the rulers, or slandering the schools of thought or otherwise. You find him using statements as proof which he does not understand, nor does he have knowledge of, nor has he ever studied these books or treatises with well known scholars. You find him misunderstanding, thus becoming misguided and misguiding others.
It is obligatory to take knowledge from its people, those who understand it. Because since it’s the case that the Qur’an has clear and unclear verses; as [Allah said];
“It is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [Prophet]. Some of its verses are clear in meaning and others are ambiguous.” [Q 3:7]
Allah has tested the people with the Qur’an in that it has clear and unclear verses. [For example], the Khawārij based [their views] on what? The Qur’an. At the same time, they went astray because they did not understand the Qur’an according to the understanding of the Companions – may Allah be pleased with them.
They understood the verses about disbelief and rulership as they wished and ruled for themselves without referring to the Companions. And this was by taking the unclear verses whilst abandoning the clears ones and not returning back to the Companions or the scholars who are well versed in knowledge.
Likewise, the Sunnah contains clear and unclear texts. Just as the words of the scholars do. The words of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah contain clear and unclear text, and similarly the statements of the Imāms of da’wah also contain clear and unclear text.
Therefore, the point isn’t to take any statement and say this is the [correct] understanding of it. That is not the case. It is necessary that you return to the people of knowledge so that they clarify the clear parts of the texts and the places where their words are unclear, and refer the unclear statements back to the clear statements so that they are understood.
An interest in the books of the ‘Scholars of the Salafī call contains light and guidance for the Muslim, but it is necessary these books are studied with the scholars so that they may clarify any shortcoming and make you understand them correctly with the explanation of the words of the people of Knowledge