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Islamic Studies Society Ummah

More Than Just a Book: Thoughts on the Magnificent Nature of Scholarship

By Suhaib Webb | Based on a lesson by Dr. `Amir Wardani

Recently we were reading a text with Dr. `Amir Wardani and the following gems sprinkled from his lips:

2522457795_fd0e85809d_b“Islamic scholars were concerned with creating a student that was complete in his knowledge as well as morals. For that reason, when you read their books, do so with great care.

Let’s look at one term that is constant in all Arabic religious texts. Abwab literally means doors, but translates as chapters. This word carries with it a number of notable ideals that not only spark the mind of the student, but bring life to his heart.

  • First: When one arrives at a door, he is anxious to get inside. So this term creates a sense of urgency to attain what’s between the book’s covers. This is the fruit of craving knowledge.
  • Second: When someone cannot enter a place, he feels impoverished and weak. Therefore, the student who is confronted with these doors realizes his weaknesses and his sincere need for Allah to enlighten his heart and open these doors for him. In the Qur’an, Allah says, “They said, “Exalted are You; we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the Knowing, the Wise” (2:32). This is the fruit of feeling impoverished to Allah.
  • Third: When he enters a place, he will come across new things–things which he was ignorant of. Thus, when one struggles with the doors of a book, it is from his admittance of ignorance. This is the fruit of humility.
  • Fourth: When the student looks at many doors and realizes that they are all doors to goodness, he will reflect on the doors of Paradise and recall that the ultimate purpose of his knowledge is for Allah alone, and for Paradise. This is the fruit of thinking about the Hereafter.”

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

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  • Subhanallah, thanks for sharing, Br. Suhaib. It just occurred to me that my native language, bahasa, also use the word ‘bab’ for chapter. What a beautiful insight. May Allah reward Dr. Wardani, and you, with abundant khayr.

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