October 24, 2013
Lazy knowledge and the Pitfalls of internet “learning”



5 min read

Muslim mentions in his Sahīh that Yahyā b. Abī Kathīr said “Knowledge is not attained through relaxation.”


I remember one of my teachers telling me about an incident in class with one of his teacher. After mentioning a narration one day, one of the students interrupted class saying: “Shaikh! Where can I find this?!”
He replied “In the Mussanaf.”
“Which one?!”
“Musannaf AbdulRazzāq” he replied.
“Shaikh, which chapter?!”
Despite the interruption he indulged and told him the chapter.
“Shaikh! Shaikh! Which page?!”
Clearly annoyed he said in a stern tone “Which book, which chapter, which page, which number, which print!! Son, pull your eyes out of their sockets and look a little! Knowledge is not attained through relaxation.”
The class fell silent …


The process of learning is not one that is automatic. Its not gifted to you on a silver platter. I find, and especially in online discussions, that people claiming the title student actually do very little studying. Most of their time is spent asking others to do the studying, thinking, and writing for them. When conveniently packaged in a tweet, post, or an article (not one too long now) the favoriting, liking and sharing of that smidgen of information becomes “knowledge” in the mind of the post-modern religiously minded Muslim active on the internet. Ask that same person for the same information at another time, and both of you will be left hoping his data connection is working that day.


This is “lazy knowledge.” It is easily attainable at the expense of other’s efforts, incomplete,  and lacks a systematic framework to incorporate it into.
As the Prophet said “Knowledge comes through learning and forbearance through restraint.”* It takes an active role on the part of each of us to listen, understand, memorize, practice, then share. It takes connection to a teacher that can guide you to knowledge, not serve it to you on a silver platter. Questions are important,  but only after you have something to ask about.


If you haven’t expended even the slightest bit of effort to know what you are asking about before you ask, then your not learning. You’re simply engaged in recreation.

After a long period of silence, the student from our story above then said timidly “Shaikh….uhm…where can I find that one?”

* Narrated by Ibn Abi ‘Āsim from Mu’awiya. Ibn Hajar declared it Hasan in Al-Fath.


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