About The Book
This is a remarkable volume that touches upon the method by which a student learns Islam in a meaningful and lasting way. Its author, Imam al-Zarnuji, has attracted the attention of Western men of learning for centuries, as they tried to decipher the secret behind the stunning educational success of Islamic civilization. Imam al-Zarnuji captured the essence of what it takes to be truly immersed in scholarship and the noble enterprise of learning. This book should be a starting point for the revival of the Islamic intellectual tradition that has always been the preamble to Islamic Renaissance, writes Hamza Yusuf in his foreword to the book.
Excerpt Earnestness, perseverance, and assiduity are indispensable in the quest for knowledge. This is indicated in the Quran, in the very words of God, the Exalted, Those who have earnestly striven in Our cause, We shall surely guide them to Our ways (29:69); and O John [Yahya], take the Book with power (19:12). It is said that he who seeks something and is industrious [in so doing] shall find it; and he who knocks at the door and is persistent shall enter. And it is said that you will reach what you desire [only] to the extent that you pursue it. It is said as well that the industriousness of three kinds of people is essential in [the pursuit of] knowledge and understanding: the student, the teacher, and the father, if he is among the living.
The most influential factors in [strengthening] memory are industriousness and commitment. Reducing ones consumption, [increasing] prayer at night, and reading the Quran are also factors for [improving] ones memory. It is said that nothing increases memory retention more than reading the Quran silently; and reading the Quran silently is most excellent, for [the Prophet] said, The most excellent among the works of my community is the reading of the Quran silently. Al-Shaddad ibn Hakim saw one of his deceased brothers in his dream and said to him, What thing did you find the most useful [for your Afterlife]?
He replied, Reading the Quran silently. One should say when lifting the Quran, In the name of God, and glory be to God, and praise be to God, and there is no God but God, and God is the greatest, and there is no power or strength except in God, the Exalted, the Mighty, who knows the number of all the letters that ever were [written] and that ever shall be written throughout the centuries and ages. And let it be said after each prescribed [prayer], I believe in God, the One, the Unique, the Truth, who has no companion; and I do not believe in any [deity] besides Him. [One] should also pray much [that God send] blessings and peace upon the Prophet (peace be upon him), for he is a mercy for the worlds.
About The Author
Imam al-Zarnuji is known by the agnomen Burhan al-Islam al-Zarnuji, which became so closely associated with him that his actual name is not known for sure. However, collections of biographies have him as al-Nu’man ibn Ibrahim al-Zarnuji. He hails from Zarnuj, a well-known town beyond the river Oxus in what is now Turkistan.
He studied with many teachers including: the illustrious Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Marghiyani al-Rushdani (the author of al-Hidaya); Shaykh Abu al-Muhamid Qawaduddin Hammad ibn Ibrahim al-Saffar; the great Shaykh hasan ibn Mansur Qadiykhani; and others. This book, “Ta’lim al-Muta’alim” (“Instruction of the Student”), is the only book he is known to have authored. The exact date of his death is unknown, though.