Shaykh al-Uthaymeen – Learning Excusively Through Books
Q: Is it permissible to learn the Deen from books only, without learning directly from the scholars, escpecially considering that, since scholars are so few in number, it is difficult for some to go and learn from them? And what is your view regarding the saying, “Whoever’s Shaykh is his book, then he will more often times be wrong thatn right”?
A: No doubt, knowledge should be sought from scholars, but from books as well, because a book written by a scholar is like a scholar who teaches: the scholar who authors a book speaks to one through its pages. So if it is not possible for one to seek out knowledge from scholars, one should seek it out from books.
Nevertheless, seeking out knowledge from scholars is better than seeking it out from books. The one who seeks out knowledge from books often becomes tired, for it requires a great deal of effort and toil to learn from books. At the same time, without the physical presence of a scholar, the student of a book might remain ignorant of some important legislative principles, [for as he is studying a book, he has no one to explain it to him]. Therefore, as much as is possible, one must have scholars that are there for him to help him understand.
Some have said, “Whoever’s guide is his book, then his errors will be greater than his correct [judgements or opinions].” This is neither absolutely true nor absolutely false. As to one who takes knowledge from any book he gets his hands on, then without a doubt, he will make many mistakes.*
But as for one who relies on the books of the scholars who are known for their knowledge and trustworthiness, then this student will not make many mistakes; rather, he may be correct in most of what he says.
-Shaykh Muhammad bin Saaleh al-Uthaymeen, rahimahullah
Extracted from the book “The Islamic Awakening: Important Guidelines”, p.144, Al-Hidaayah Publishing, 2006, Translated by Faisal ibn Muhammad
*Emphasis added by editor of SalafiyyahCincinnati.com
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