Praise be to Allaah.
I bless you for your great ambitions and for the keenness to
acquire knowledge with which Allaah has blessed you, because shar’i
knowledge is the noblest pursuit in which a man may spend his life and his
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
said: “This world is cursed, as is everything in it, except for remembrance
of Allaah (dhikr) and what he likes (righteous deeds etc), and a scholar or
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2322), who said: it is hasan
ghareeb. It was also classed as hasan by Ibn al-Qayyim in ‘Uddat
al-Saabireen (260) and by al-Albaani in al-Saheehah (2797).
The path to knowledge is lengthy and it is a lifetime
project. The seeker of knowledge will continue to seek it until he meets
It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be
pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “The believer will never have enough of listening to good
things (seeking knowledge) until he reaches Paradise.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2686) who said: It is hasan ghareeb.
It was classed as saheeh by al-Haakim (4/129) and al-Dhahabi agreed with
him. It was classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Da’eef al-Tirmidhi.
The following advice will answer your questions:
The best time to seek knowledge is when one is young, when
one is alert and has a lot of energy. It does not matter if a person misses
out on knowledge when he is young or in childhood, because when a student
is young he is able to make up for what he has missed, if he works hard.
Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated in his Musannaf (5/284) that
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: Learn before you
reach a position of prominence.
Abu ‘Ubayd said in Ghareeb al-Hadeeth (3/369):
He says: Acquire knowledge when you are still young, before
you become leaders. End quote.
When al-Bukhaari quoted these words in a mu’allaq report in
his Saheeh (p. 39), he followed that by saying:
And after you reach a position of prominence; the companions
of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) acquired
knowledge when they were older. End quote.
What al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) meant was
that being older and being in a prominent position does not prevent one from
learning. Many of the Sahaabah became Muslim when they were older, such as
Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him), then they became leaders of
knowledge, light and guidance.
I also give you the glad tidings that the twenties are the
best age to seek knowledge, because you are still young and strong. The
scholars chose this age for learning difficult matters, and what comes
before that is only memorizing Qur’aan and some texts.
It says in Tadreeb al-Raawi (1/414):
Some of the scholars said: It is mustahabb to start listening
to (i.e., learning) hadeeth after the age of thirty. This was the view of
the people of Syria. And it was said after the age of twenty, which was the
view of the people of Kufah. Sufyaan al-Thawri said: If a man wanted to
learn hadeeth, he would worship for twenty years beforehand. Abu ‘Abd-Allaah
al-Zubayri, who was a Shaafa’i scholar, said: It is mustahabb to learn
hadeeth in one’s twenties, because it is when his mind reaches maturity.
Before that, I prefer a person to occupy himself in memorizing Qur’aan and
studying fiqh. End quote.
Now you are at the beginning of seeking knowledge, and you
have not missed anything, in sha Allaah. Try to make sure that your
beginning is sound and strong, and do not waste any of your time, for what
is missed can never be regained.
As seeking knowledge is prescribed throughout one's life, and
life ends only at death, it is essential for the seeker of knowledge to
combine meeting worldly needs with pursuit of knowledge. That includes
marriage, because marriage should never be a barrier to seeking knowledge.
If the seeker of knowledge regards the pursuit of knowledge as the greatest
act of worship in which he may spend the years of his life, then marriage,
work and taking care of worldly needs only serve that lifetime project,
which is worshipping Allaah by acquiring knowledge.
This is how the Sahaabah, Taabi’een and the early scholars
were. Some of them were merchants, some were governors, some were married to
one wife and some to four, and some had families, but that did not distract
them from acquiring knowledge.
Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in
Ihya’ ‘Uloom al-Deen (2/44):
If a man has the right quality and is free from problems, so
his wealth is all halaal and he is of good character and he is serious about
his religious commitment, then getting married will not distract him from
Allaah. Moreover, he is a young man who needs to calm his desires, and he is
alone and needs someone to help him in looking after his house and keep him
chaste. No doubt marriage is better for him. End quote.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was
asked in Liqa’ al-Baab il-Maftooh (3/56):
There is a seeker of shar’i knowledge who wants to get
married, but he is afraid that if he gets married, that will distract him
from seeking knowledge. What advice can you give him?
The Shaykh (may Allaah have mercy on him) replied:
Marriage is not an obstacle to pursuing knowledge, rather it
may help in the pursuit of knowledge. A man may be blessed with a wife who
reads and writes and can help him. Even if she does not do that, at least
she can take away waswaas and thoughts of marriage, for marriage helps in
the pursuit of knowledge, because it provides a suitable atmosphere for
pursuing knowledge, a calm and peaceful atmosphere. The wife can free up
lots of time for her husband that he used to spend in meeting his needs in
the house. So my advice to this young man is to go ahead and get married,
for there is a lot of good in it, and it is obedience to the command of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and following his
Sunnah and the Sunnah of his fellow-Messengers. End quote.
Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him)
said in Fataawa ‘Ulama’ al-Balad al-Haraam (277):
My advice to all young men and women is to hasten to get
married if they are able to, because the Prophet (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) said: “O young people, whoever among you can afford
to get married, let him do so, for it helps one to lower the gaze and
protect the private parts (i.e., remain chaste). Whoever cannot afford it,
let him fast, for it is a protection for him.” That serves many interests
as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pointed out,
such as lowering the gaze, guarding one's chastity, increasing the numbers
of the ummah and keeping one safe from any negative consequences. End
As for speaking about the time required for seeking
knowledge, this is something in which people vary and no one has the right
to stipulate specific times. I will give you some examples here, then leave
it to you to work it out.
Ibn al-‘Attaar, the student of al-Nawawi, said:
Our Shaykh (may Allaah have mercy on him) told me that he
never spent any time, by night or by day, without being busy with knowledge,
and even on the road he would be reading. He continued like this for six
years, then he began to write books. He never ate during the day or the
night, except a meal after ‘Isha’ prayer, and he drank only once, just
before dawn. He said: I am afraid that my body may become hydrated and make
me want to sleep. End quote.
Ibn ‘Aqeel al-Hanbali said:
It is not permissible for me to waste an hour of my life even
when my tongue is not busy with memorizing or debating with others, or my
eyes are not busy in reading. I would think even when I am resting or
relaxing, so I would not get up without an idea to write down. I limit the
time I spend eating as much as I can, to such an extent that I choose a few
crumbs and follow it with water rather than bread, because bread takes more
time to chew, so as to save my time for reading or writing down some useful
ideas. The best thing for the wise man to save is time.
End quote. See Salaah al-Ummah (4/169-175).
The seeker of knowledge should not ignore current events and
the state of his society. These are essential to knowledge. The faqeeh is
the one who understands the texts properly and understands the reality to
which he applies them.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in
Liqa’ al-Baab il-Maftooh (1/330):
It is well known that a person should have knowledge of real
life, so that he will know how people are living. The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) indicated this in the words he said
when he sent Mu’aadh ibn Jabal to Yemen: “You are going to some people of
the Book,” and he told them about their situation. But it is not permissible
under any circumstances to let that outweigh his study of religion. Neither
youth nor anyone else should focus only on what is happening here and there
and focus only on issues that he cannot do anything about. Moreover, if he
is keen to set the affairs of the ummah straight, proper understanding of
religion is the basic requirement. Hence the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah wills good for a person,
He grants him proper understanding of religion.” Proper understanding
requires applying proper understanding of Islam to people’s lives, but it is
not permissible under any circumstances to focus on studying life and
reality at the expense of studying religion to such an extent that a person
has no concern but reading newspapers and magazines, and so on, and neglects
to study the Qur’aan and Sunnah. End quote.
But you know that much of what is shown on satellite channels
is things that it is not permissible for a Muslim to watch, because the
programs show women who are displaying their beauty, and are accompanied by
music. Allaah has caused us to have no need of that, praise be to Allaah,
because you can watch what you need on a channel that is free of things that
are haraam, or a trustworthy Islamic news website, especially since we agree
that what is required in your case is to familiarize yourself in general
with current affairs, then focusing on the issue which you care most about,
which is seeking knowledge and doing da’wah, especially if it is an evil
that you can change, or something good that you can enjoin or take part in.
But if your ambition is to reach the same level of knowledge
as the great imams, that is a blessing which Allaah bestows on whomsoever He
will, and that is not difficult for Allaah. But you must prove what you say,
and the way to prove it is by striving hard to acquire knowledge and
devoting yourself and your wealth to that, then seeking Allaah’s help to
enable you to reach the status of an imam in knowledge and religious
commitment, for that is a quality that Allaah commends in His slaves. Allaah
says of the attributes of the slaves of the Most Merciful (interpretation of
“And those who say: Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives
and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us
leaders of the Muttaqoon (the pious”
But we warn you against doing to extremes in your ambitions
and dreams, which may lead to unrealistic thinking for a while, then soon
you may feel despair and frustration because you have not achieved much.
We advise you of the words of Allaah (interpretation of the
“He who emigrates (from his home) in the Cause of Allaah,
will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by. And whosoever
leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allaah and His Messenger, and death
overtakes him, his reward is then surely, incumbent upon Allaah. And Allaah
is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
And we remind you of the words of the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) to those who are following the path that
leads to Allaah:
“Aim to do good and do what you can. Do your duties early in
the day or in the afternoon, or at night, and be moderate, and you will
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6463) and Muslim (2818).
And Allaah knows best.