Which is more virtuous – memorizing the Qur’an, or seeking ‘ilm? : Ibn Taymiyah

One of the numerous topics addressed by Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah, in his epic work Majmoo’a al-Fataawa, was posed as: “Which is more virtuous: Memorizing the Qur’an, or seeking ‘ilm? The Sheikh’s response:

فأجاب : أما العلم الذي يجب على الإنسان عينا كعلم ما أمر الله به وما نهى الله عنه فهو مقدم على حفظ ما لا يجب من القرآن فإن طلب العلم الأول واجب وطلب الثاني مستحب والواجب مقدم على المستحب .

The answer: As for the ‘ilm which is obligatory for each individual, such as knowledge of what Allah commanded him with and what Allah prohibited him from, then this takes precedence over memorization of what is not obligatory from the Qur’an. Definitely seeking knowledge of the first kind is obligatory while seeking the second kind is commendable, and the obligatory matters take precedence over the commendable ones.

وأما طلب حفظ القرآن : فهو مقدم على كثير مما تسميه الناس علما : وهو إما باطل أو قليل النفع . وهو أيضا مقدم في التعلم في حق من يريد أن يتعلم علم الدين من الأصول والفروع فإن المشروع في حق مثل هذا في هذه الأوقات أن يبدأ بحفظ القرآن فإنه أصل علوم الدين بخلاف ما يفعله كثير من أهل البدع من الأعاجم وغيرهم حيث يشتغل أحدهم بشيء من فضول العلم من الكلام أو الجدال والخلاف أو الفروع النادرة أو التقليد الذي لا يحتاج إليه أو غرائب الحديث التي لا تثبت ولا ينتفع بها وكثير من الرياضيات التي لا تقوم عليها حجة ويترك حفظ القرآن الذي هو أهم من ذلك كله فلا بد في مثل [ هذه ] المسألة من التفصيل .

And as for seeking to memorize the Qur’an, then this takes precedence over much of what the people call ‘ilm, which is either falsehood or of little benefit. And this also takes precedence in learning for whoever desires to learn the knowledge of the deen – both the fundamentals and secondary matters – for verily what is legislated concerning the likes of this [i.e. the seeking of knowledge] in these times is that one begins with with the memorization of the Qur’an, for definitely it is the foundation of the sciences of the deen. [This approach is] in contradistinction to what many of the the ahl al-Bida’ [people of innovation] from amongst the non-Arabs and other than them do. One of them is busied with something of the virtues of the knowledge of rhetoric, debate, points of disagreement, uncommon non-essential issues, customs and traditions which he does not need, the oddities of [the sciences of] hadeeth which neither hold much affect nor does he benefit from them, or an abundance of devotional religious practices which do not establish a proof against him. And he abandons memorization of the Qur’an, which is the most of important of all those things, and as should be clear in this matter.

والمطلوب من القرآن هو فهم معانيه والعمل به فإن لم تكن هذه همة حافظه لم يكن من أهل العلم والدين والله سبحانه أعلم .

And what is sought concerning the Qur’an is comprehension of the meanings and acting according to it. For if this is not the ambition of its memorizer, then he is not from the people of ‘ilm and deen, and Allah the Exalted knows best.

[Majmoo’a al-Fataawa 23/54-55]

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: Ibn Kathir

See also: Learning the Qur’an – Both Wordings and Meanings: ibn Taymiyah

See also: “The Best of You are Those Who Learn the Qur’an and Teach it”: Sheikh al-Albani

See also: Tafsir al-Sa’di on the objective of revealing the Qur’an and its benefits

See also: The Virtue of Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh Muqbil

See also: Recite the Book with its true recitation

See also: Which is more virtuous: reading a small amount of the Qur’an with tarteel and contemplation, or a large amount quickly? – Ibn al-Qayyim

See also: Advice for Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

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12 thoughts on “Which is more virtuous – memorizing the Qur’an, or seeking ‘ilm? : Ibn Taymiyah

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  8. Pingback: Which are More Virtuous, the First Ten of Dhu’l-Hijjah or the Last Ten of Ramadan? | Tulayhah

  9. Pingback: The Virtue of Memorizing the Qur’an: Sheikh Muqbil | Tulayhah

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  11. Pingback: Learning the Qur’an – Both Wordings and Meanings: ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  12. Pingback: “The Best of You are Those Who Learn the Qur’an and Teach it”: Sheikh al-Albani | Tulayhah

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