Shaykh Rabīʿ ibn Hādī al-Madkhalī:
From [obstacles in the path of seeking knowledge] is hastiness and seeking knowledge in an unorganised manner. [Meaning] he reads from here and there, from here and there without being firmly grounded.
In the olden days, the people used to have methods that caused them to gain knowledge in specific time frames. So they would start with the memorisation of the Qur’ān and learning how to write. They would then learn a very small book in Islamic jurisprudence. They would learn inheritance. Inheritance is from the fundamentals. Thus, one would not begin seeking knowledge except after memorising the Qur’ān and learning how to pray.
Today, many of the students of knowledge and maybe [even] some scholars, do not bother with inheritance. And in this regard there is a weak hadīth however the reality of today proves it to be true and that is that the knowledge of inheritance will be the first to be lost – and Allāh’s refuge is sought. By Allāh, we witnessed [this] in the beginning stages of teaching. Shaykh ʿAbdullāh al-Qarʿāwī and his students would start with inheritance and al-Usūl ath-Thalāthah.
My dear brother, abandon hastiness [and] start with the foundations and the books and the texts that will gather for you the fundamentals which will make easy for you and be a ladder to the larger books.
You start with al-Aqīdah al-Wāsitiyyah and it is a comprehensive creed whilst being small in size. You memorise before everything. Memorise it. You memorise Kitāb at-Tawhīd and you understand it. Al-Usūl ath-Thalāthah, you memorise it and understand it. Bulūgh al-Marām or al-‘Umdah al-Ahkām (by Abd al-Ghanī al-Maqdisī) and the like of that. And a small book in Islamic jurisprudence from any jurisprudence of the jurists and from the best of them is Mukhtasar al-Muqniʿ (Zād al-Mustaqniʿ) … Al-‘Umdah (Al-‘Umdah al-Fiqh by ibn Qudamāh) and it has an explanation [called] al-ʿUddah. He reads them, understands them and comprehends them. Then he reads their explanations and what is connected to them.
He reads the explanation of at-Tahawiyyah and the explanation of Kitāb at-Tawhīd. It has many explanations. He reads them. He strengthens this knowledge. [Then] new knowledge will be established upon these foundations and increase.
And after some time he [still] does not become hasty. After he has completed this stage, he starts reading al-Bukhārī, Muslim and Abū Dāwūd. And he read the books about the narrators of ḥadīth. He reads the books of ḥadīth terminology. [Regarding] these sciences, the one studying the Islamic legislation is in need of them. What is important, is that he progresses step by step.
He does not dive into knowledge like this and blunder around randomly. Due to this, we find that many of the people do not have firm foundations. They are not firmly grounded. They do not know the fundamentals of knowledge. You find that in Islamic jurisprudence that he has ignorance. You find that in ḥadīth terminology he has ignorance. You find that in ḥadīth he has ignorance. You find in the science of narrators he knows nothing at all, and the like of that. If he had started step by step upon the path of the early scholars you would have found with him much good and beneficial knowledge.