Which books do you advise to read in regards to ʿaqīdah, tafsīr, ḥadīth along with its sciences and fiqh?
Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Amān al-Jāmī
The first essay that I advise the one who wishes to begin seeking knowledge to memorise is The Three Principles, [after that] The Pillars of the Prayer and its Obligations and Conditions followed by The Four Principles, whilst using an edition that has all three in one. It is desirable to memorise The Conditions of Lā illāha illa Allah and ‘The Nullifiers of Lā illāha illā Allah’. It is essential that he memorises these essays well, and after doing so, reads them to a student of knowledge, so as to take from the mouths of men and not from the belly of books [i.e. sits with scholars to ensure correct understanding as opposed to relying on one’s own readings].
Thereafter, if it is easy for him to memorise Removal of the Doubts then that is good. However, the book that is most important for a student of knowledge to memorise and study in the subject of ‘aqīdah – specifically with regards to tawḥīd of worship and rulership – in an original manner, is The Book of Tawḥīd, which is the right of Allah upon His servants (Kitāb al-Tawḥīd). This is a great book. It is [a collection] of selected segments from verses in the Book of Allah ﷻ, Prophetic ḥadīth, and narrations of the people of knowledge. It is a book, which by, Allah ﷻ has facilitated a great deal of good. We advise our youth to give importance to this book, [by] memorising, and understanding [it well] and by reading it’s explanations in order to be firm in this subject, the subject of ‘aqīdah.
In the subject of tawḥīd of the Names and Attributes – for the student who has great desires for knowledge, he should memorise the text of ‘al-Wāsatīyāh’ or study it so that he understands it. [He should move onto] the books that have been gathered under the title, ‘Majmūʿ Fatāwā of Ibn Taymīyah’. Within this collection are very important treatises that are absolutely necessary for a student of knowledge to study. If the student wishes to further his study on the subject of Names and Attributes, he should study ‘The Explanation of al-Tahāwīyāh’ since the author of the explanation of al-Tahāwīyāh transmits the majority or bulk of his books from the books of Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymīyah, his student Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Kathīr. It is a comprehensive and beneficial book.
As for tafsīr, then is it essential that a beginning student of knowledge starts with ‘Tafsīr ‘Ābd al-Rahmān al-Siʿdī’ since it is concise, and his manḥaj was well known – his manḥaj was Salafī. If the student is well acquainted and grounded in the branches of the Arabic Language, and finds a teachers or a Salafī exegete, then he should study ‘Fāt’ḥ al-Qadīr’ by al-Shawkānī. I have made these cautions and set these conditions because Imām al-Shawkānī – even with his great level of knowledge and good authorships, especially in Fat’ḥ al-Qadīr and Nayl al-Āwtār he was not innocent from interpreting some texts in terms of the Attributes [of Allah ﷻ]. In case he is deceived by this, it is essential that he chooses a Salafī exegete to study this book. Thereafter the tasfīr that is well known to us is ‘Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr’ there is no problem in studying the summarisation that has been summarised from this tafsīr or even diving into other parts. Nevertheless, saying all that I’ve said, it is not befitting that a student of knowledge suffices with reading, but he must turn to the people of knowledge. Lastly, before we finish [speaking about] tafsīr, it is also necessary to study the sciences of tafsīr. From the sciences of tafsīr are the technique of recitation, and the subjects of the Arabic Language. All of this is from the sciences of tafsīr.
Then he should study ḥadīth. He should memorise texts – as we mentioned last night, he should begin with ‘Forty Ḥadīth al-Nawawī’ and ‘Umdat al-Aḥkām’ and ‘Bulūgh al-Marām’. He should study the conditions and become aware of these books. He should study them with the people who are specialists [in this subject].
[As for] fiqh, then if the student of knowledge wishes to expand and become acquainted with the differences amongst the scholars of fiqh, then he should memorise texts from all four schools of thought. He should not accustom himself in sticking to just one specific school, since the correct fiqh is that which is studied in Umdat al-Aḥkām and Bulūgh al-Marām [that is] the fiqh of the sunnah and some of the books of imām al-Shawkānī – provided, as I’ve said, there is no bigotry to anything.