I want to study Islam: Part I | Part II
The Informed Muslim
This is the first category in discussing the study of Islam amongst Muslims. To begin, what are the objectives of this group? According to the scholars of jurisprudence, it is to learn enough about your religion to fulfill what is compulsory upon you with regards to your relationship between you and your Creator. For some this is simple; for others it can require a bit more effort. What is required? Here are some key categories:
1) Basic `aqidah (creed): what is compulsory for a Muslim to believe about Allah, His messengers, the angels, the holy revealed books sent down to His prophets, the Last Day, divine predestination and life after death. It is also important for a Muslim to learn about how to cure the illnesses of the soul and heart according to Islamic principles.
2) Basic Fiqh (jurisprudence): what is compulsory when it comes to prayer and reciting the Qur’an, zakat (giving in charity), fasting and hajj. Also required is knowledge of rulings that are known by default in the religion, such as the major sins and words or actions that can remove you from Islam. More may be required for others, such as learning about usury in transactions for businesspeople and medical ethics for those who are in the medical field.
3) Removing Doubts: whatever a Muslim needs to learn to keep doubts from destroying his or her faith. This can differ from person to person. Many may not require much, but some people may require extensive reading in side topics. For example, a new Muslim who is leaving Christianity may require more in the way of the Islamic critique of Christianity, and a Muslim who experiences doubts because of atheism may need to do further reading or studying in topics that address the status of Islam with regards to other universal philosophies, Orientalist critique, or the superiority of Islamic ethics. For most Muslims, a few YouTube videos, articles, and sometimes books can suffice for this.
Everything else the Informed Muslim learns after these is extra. However, the Informed Muslim is encouraged to continue in learning whatever he or she feels will benefit their faith, such as learning Arabic, memorizing the Qur’an, learning and reflecting over the meanings of the Qur’an, and other facets of Islam through any means available to them whether online, in print or with a teacher.
As for how the Informed Muslim is to accomplish this, nowadays alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) it has become quite easy due to the plethora of online content, TV shows, literature, community and masjid (mosque) events, classes and da`wah (preaching) programs and institutes organized in most Muslim communities. It is not necessary to have a teacher, although it is better, especially if the Informed Muslim is confused about something. It is always preferable to know someone who you can ask questions; this may be a Muslim Activist or a Scholar.
Needless to say, it is also important for the Informed Muslim to put in practice what he or she learns, primarily by fulfilling compulsory acts of worship at all costs. Other additional acts of worship are recommended to increase in incrementally over time. If the Informed Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, community involvement may be much more important than additional acts of worship whether through the local mosque, charity organization or other religious organization.