Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
Hhugs Sisters Istiqama Summit
Hola al hamdu Lillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah dear sisters salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. Thank you to, you know, to hugs for hosting this wonderful, this wonderful online summit, because I think it's a great opportunity for us all to connect on this, on this Saturday, during lockdown of hamdulillah. So, the topic that I'm going to be speaking to you about today is staying steadfast on the path of knowledge. And it was interesting that I was asked to give that talk because I'm actually quite a lot of sisters do ask me about that. And they do ask me, you know, about their journey of seeking knowledge. And, you know, sometimes it's advice about how to stay
steadfast, sometimes it's about where to start.
Sometimes they've may be, they may be facing some kind of set set to back. And they'd like to know how to get past that, you know. So
it's really important for us to kind of
be people who think about,
you know, how to stay steadfast on any path that we decide to embark upon. So the first thing I like to say is that, I don't think the path of knowledge is a path that's only for people who want to become scholars and people want to become teachers, you know, as a Muslim, for the believer, knowledge is their path throughout life, right.
So, just by being a Muslim, by being a believer, you want to learn how to read the Quran, right? You want to be able to read the Quran correctly, and pronounce the words and recite the Quran in the correct way that's going to take seeking knowledge. And you want to be able to do all the Gar and all of those, you know, the things that we do in our Salah. And for that you need to know a certain level of Arabic.
And it would be even better if you would, if you understood the meaning of all of that, right. And then when it comes to the salon, when it comes to your everyday life, you want to know how to live your life in the best way. And all of that also takes seeking knowledge. So knowledge is the path that all of us as believers have to take, you know, it's not a job description, seeking knowledge, you know, nor is it a, like a status symbol. Right? And neither should we look at it like that. Right? What it is, is the path of a believer throughout life. And I think if we look at it in that way, instead of comparing ourselves to other people who are at different levels on that path.
Instead of doing that, we would instead focus on ourselves and see, you know, where am I? And where do I need to be an am I acting upon the knowledge that I've sought, because that's, of course, another very important consideration for the believer, acting upon the knowledge that we seek. So how to stay set steadfast on the path of knowledge.
Some of you may have heard the very famous poem of Imam Shafi, where he gave some advice about seeking knowledge, right or about the path of knowledge and he said, something along the lines of Atlanta let lentinan inma illa de sitter, you will not my brother, you will not seek knowledge, or you will not attain knowledge, except with six things. So I'm Vika and that we have the billion in said I will tell you, I will give you some more. I would explain to you, you know, and expound upon what those six things are. And then he said, the cat one were Harrison, watch, they had one what Buddha was talking about sterben what all is a man? Right? So he said,
we'll go through each of those things. He said six things. The first is a blackout when
the blackout means intelligence, you know, you need to have a level of intelligence, you need to be the sort of person who reads between the lines, right? Not somebody who is very surface level type person. Yeah. And that's something you have to train yourself to be be somebody who thinks deeply be somebody who has intelligence, perception notices the details, right? And that's the sort of person that's the first thing that you need, you know, you need to have a level of intelligence and you need to hone and develop your intelligence. Sometimes people think that their intelligence is level is fixed. But you know, you can nurture it. You can nurture your intelligence, you can nurture your
cognitive abilities and your skills, and you can neglect to them and harm them, right. Things that nurture our cognitive abilities are things like taking care of our health, taking care of our mental health as well.
Being the sort of person who practices a lot. So practicing, you know, so we know that our tradition is rich with people who memorize a lot, you know, and nowadays, we don't really have that culture of memorization. But memorizing what it does is it sharpens your faculties, right? sharpened certain areas of your brain.
So doing all of the things that are conducive to
protecting our brains and our intelligence, so the first thing he said was the backup. And then he said, Hey, listen, you need help, you need a burning desire for knowledge, right? So, in other words,
it's not something that's just going to be handed to you on a plate, you've got to want it, and you've got to go out and seek it. Sometimes you might have so many setbacks, right. So panela, you know, you can talk to anyone who has been on the path of knowledge. And they'll tell you, there were setbacks, right.
From my own experience, on I went to Egypt to study Arabic, I still went to Egypt to study Islamic Studies, as a, as a teenager. And what happened, I, you know, some member of my family became ill, and I had to come back home. And, you know, I faced a lot of difficulties living in Egypt, just living there was difficult, right. And then coming back to the UK, there were different stages when it seemed like, you know, you thought you find the right Institute, or the right teachers or the right course. And then sometimes there's a setback, there's a reason why you can't attend that, or you have to find a new strategy, you have to find a new way of doing things, you might try to get
into university or a particular course, and you can't, because it's in another country, and your situation doesn't allow you to write,
life can happen, things can happen, right. And if you don't have that burning desire, then every obstacle that comes in your way is going to be an excuse for you to stop, right. And instead of that, you have the burning desire. And you use that as a catalyst to keep you going to keep you moving forward, right. And you can't be passive can't be a passive learner. Right, you have to be actively involved in your own development and learning. So we had to, you know, just passively listening to things, even though listening to things is very good and useful. But being very passive, not writing, for example, not
engaging with it,
that's going to mean that, you know, you're not really going to be able to attain and keep the knowledge. So he said, I got one called Harrison, the third thing, which they hadn't, so hard work, striving, I think, you know, his and hard work go together.
Because he had his, you know, to, to actually exert yourself, to exert yourself in a particular on a particular path, right, you're putting effort in, you're putting your energy in, you're not just being passive about it, you're actually going to go out of your way to make it happen. So part of that could be, for example, working hard to make time for seeking knowledge. Another part of it could be, you know, actually literally going abroad, or having to travel.
So I remember in places like Egypt, you know, just getting to a class was it was a jihad, right? Because it couldn't cross the road, just crossing the road was like, you know, a death wish. Right? In, in places like Egypt. So
I remember, it was very difficult, very difficult living there, and especially as a teenager, so you know, the path of knowledge is going to be difficult. The scholars of the past, they used to travel miles and miles on foot, right? Just to get a hobby just to seek a hobby. I mean, so Pamela, this something that we can't imagine, right? In our times. We can't imagine that in our times. But in our times, there's another type of struggle, I would say, right, there's another type of HDR there is another type of struggle that we have to do. And that is the struggle not to be distracted. Right? The struggle not to get immersed in dounia, the struggle not to
get thrown off the path by the next shiny thing, the next exciting thing, right.
So each generation has its struggles. And I think one of our generation struggles is distraction and choice. We're spoilt for choice. There's so much choice. There's so much choice when it comes to courses. So much choice when it comes to things we could do and things our attention could be put towards. So for people like us, our struggle is you know, staying focused again.
But again, you know, putting effort in, and also like working hard and taking the steps necessary to, you know, to seek knowledge. So we went through, what did we say we said that one person was the hardest working hard, you know, striving.
I'll tell you a little story about striving. So I remember, you know, when I couldn't go to Egypt or back to Egypt, and I couldn't go abroad again. And I spent many years like just studying with scholars here in the UK, and, you know, scholars when they used to come in, from abroad, and online, so I tried to use any method I could. And then seminary opened up in East London, and the seminary was really good, it was going to have a full Islamic syllabus, right, good curriculum. And believe it or not, the biggest struggle for me, at that time, in committing to that seminary was the journey from my house to that seminary, right. I don't know, if you're not familiar with London, London is,
London feels like a country sometimes, right? Because it's so big. And the thought of, you know, in the cold in the freezing cold going out and getting on a train, because I would have had to go by train, and you know, traveling all the way across London, to the seminary every day, spending my day there, and then coming back to pick up my children from school and come home. Just thought of that was so like, it was not an attractive prospect, let's put it that way. But I remember saying to myself, at that point, since all the other factors were fine, you know, and it was a conducive time, the only thing that was stopping me was literally
laziness. That feeling of Oh, my God, it's gonna be freezing, I'm gonna have to get up, I'm gonna have to get on a train, go to the other side of London, I have to factor in cooking somehow, and this and that, and shopping and you know, all the things that our mother would have to factor in.
But I remember saying to myself, I don't want to be 60 years old, look back on my life, and then say to myself, the reason why I did not seek knowledge, or the reason why I did not complete my studies to a certain level, is because I couldn't get my backside out of my house and get on a train, right? Hello. So
I guess I coached myself and rebuked myself and told myself look, you know,
it's gonna be a struggle, you have to honor the struggle, you have to understand that struggle is part of it. Right? Unfortunately, sometimes we want things without the struggle. But the struggle is part of it. And the beautiful thing about struggle is, once you start at the beginning, yeah, it feels really difficult. Right? beginning it was such a drag getting on that train and going across London and right, but
it's just the nature of things that you know, things start getting easier. The more you do them, right, the more you do them, the easier they get. So, probably the hardest part is just committing, and deciding that you're going to do them, right. So
we said we said
vaca, and we're here soonish to having what Buddha. So Buddha is like, having the money
or having the ability, right? So now, when it comes to money, it doesn't mean they have to be super rich to seek knowledge. But whatever means you do have you you can use them, you can save up you can you you set aside money, and you make seeking knowledge a part of your budget, right?
That's one thing. The other thing is, you know, you have to be willing to spend money.
And it is a matter of will, right? You know, there are women out there if they want when they want they get themselves rings and jewelry, right? they'll save up for that. And there are women out there who will save up for a holiday. We all do that. Right? So what about seeking knowledge, if that's something we could save up for?
That's, that's one aspect that we should bear in mind. The other is, you know, getting members of our family or getting the community around us to support our vision.
And when we do that, you will see that people are willing to fund you, right? So there are scholarships out there. There are people willing to invest in you out there, if you can show them a compelling enough vision for what you want to do with that knowledge. Right. And also, if you can be committed to that and you can show them a track record of having done that, you know, so never stop on the past path of knowledge due to a lack of money.
Keep moving forward in whatever means you can. So there might be a time when you can't book a course, you know, maybe the courses in your area or from where you are. It's too expensive. Okay? For now, there is a subpanel there's a, like a treasury of material online that's completely and completely free. The only thing it requires from you is commitment and investment. Right? There are long YouTube, you know, sets of lectures, covering the Sierra of the prophets, our cellar and covering Tajweed rules, covering all sorts of things, every single science of Islam, I would say, you know,
not that that's a perfect substitute for having a teacher and having a chef and going and seeking knowledge. But in the absence of your ability to do something else, what do you do as a believer? Do you just sit tight and just allow time to pass? Or do you seek some other way of doing it? Right, I would suggest that we seek seek some other way of doing it, and keep moving forward. So that there's always progress. And believe me, there are things that you will have learned. Because Because I remember when I was breastfeeding my children, I was, you know, a mom at home with little babies. And I couldn't go to courses, okay. But what I did have is my ears.
And I did have the ability to listen, right, even while I was breastfeeding. So at that time, so Pamela, in a way, I was kind of captive as well, you know, because I was at home and I had to commit to being at home with my children. So, in fact, I use that time to listen to a lot of lectures and learn a lot of Arabic actually, during that time, because I used to listen to Arabic lectures, lecture series, right, and you internalize a lot of knowledge from that, you know.
And as a mother, it's very good for you as well, because you're obviously feeding your mind with positive things, you're feeding your mind with the book of Allah. So, the mode of study keeps changing, perhaps, but you keep moving forward, and you keep studying. So he said, Koolhaas, you need to be willing to invest money, right. And also to get others to invest money, if need be, including, for example, your parents, your if you're married your husband, you know, you can help him, you can get him to buy in to the fact that, you know, if you seek knowledge, you're going to serve the family better, and any good that you are able to do, he will be rewarded for if he helped
to fund you, right.
So, and the last few things he said, we're talking about sort of serving with all as a man in software to serve is very important. You know, we human beings, we need the company of good people. And our elders, especially, you know, scholars and show you, you know, whether they're male or female, but they're elder especially, they can have an immense impact on us in the way we think in the way we view life in things that we hadn't considered right. And so it's really important to spend time with them. We learn a lot from their manners, we learn a lot from just the way they interact with people. You know, one thing I'll tell you like, before, I used to study with Chef
I used to, I used to really care a lot about convincing people of my opinion, right. So if I held something to be the truth, I would, you know, continue to discuss it with somebody until I felt that they should be convinced now, you know, and I put a lot of emotion, I think, even though it might not have been very obvious that I was doing that, but I was putting a lot of emotion into the result. Right? And so, you know, why isn't this person convinced of this, for example, during the hour to a non Muslim or, you know, speaking to a Muslim about something that maybe they needed some guidance on, but they're just not accepting a particular point of view, my support a lot of energy
into that, and, but not just energy into the conveying of the message. Also in I was very invested in the result, right. But one of the things that I really learned from my shift from nadwi was kind of law, you know, you would be in the class, and he would express an opinion, quite a strong opinion about something sometimes controversial as well, right. And as a student, you know, I'd have my hand up and I'd be challenging something that he said and as respectful away as I could.
And when he saw you know that you had a good argument, and you know, if you weren't, there was a bit of back and forth. He never ever forced you to accept his opinion. And I was really blown away by that. I was blown away by that because I wasn't used to
being around people like that. And I wasn't used to being like that, right? So he was not very, he didn't care if you actually accepted his opinion or not, but you know, he, his job was to convey the message. Now, it was for you to take that and use your own judgment. And he kind of could could live with people being different. He could live with people being different, and having different opinions, and he didn't expect his students to accept every single opinion of his at all, you know, he respected that we had different ways of looking at things and we had different approaches. And just that little character trait of his has had such such a huge, huge impact on me in the way I
engage with other people now, you know, so I'm not so invested in forcing wasn't my job to force anyone anyway. But I'm not so invested in the result, right? My job is to convey the message and make sure I'm, I'm, you know, I can answer to Allah.
The result, and whether people accept it or not, whether it's taken well or not, that's all in Allah's hands. And that's up to Allah. Right. So that's just a little character trait that I learned from,
you know, had spending time with scholars. And there are other character traits that you will pick up from spending time with scholars, female scholars, male scholars, you know, from the female scholars that I was with in Egypt learnt a lot about how to panela you know, the way they used to interact with people is to carry on with their work, they were teachers, they did hard work, but they were able to do it without compromising their hijab without, you know, intermingling with men and not, you know, slackening their standards. And sometimes you need a role model like that, in order to see that it can actually be done, right. And then the last thing he said was, Mama Shafi
as a man, you need a long period of time, right? That's a really important one, because a lot of us we want quick results, we're used to going into a course, spending a year getting a diploma, spending four years to get a degree or three years to get a degree right.
We don't understand that actually, seeking knowledge of being is a lifelong thing.
And obviously, we want milestones want to reach milestones stones along the way, and that's why I encourage all of us to be on some kind of organized program, you know, not just be going from one thing to another, but try to be on some kind of organized program
and be willing to be on it for the long haul. Right? But also be willing to be very patient along that path.
You know, I meet meet so many people who, initially they love a particular chef and they just want to study with him and they want to study at his Institute. And then over a bit of time, what happens you know, they start the shine starts rubbing off and then they get rejected and they think, oh, maybe I should have gone to another course. No, my advice would be stick to one thing first complete it before moving on to something else. So inshallah I think I've covered all six of those points. Of course, there's so much more that could be said.
I hope that benefited everyone just a little bit.
Please feel free to reach out to me anytime on Twitter or you know, via my email address, which is contact at Fatima barkatullah.com. And on Twitter, you know, the Twitter handle is at Fatima barkatullah with one l I'll be happy to hear from you. If you have any questions. And as I can my parents have panic alarm or the hamburger should Allah Allah Allah enters the field.