Lazy knowledge and the Pitfalls of internet “learning”

Joe Bradford

| 10/24/2013

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.


Related Posts

Spanish Rice Paella - Photo by Young Shih on Unsplash

Cooking Rice, Not Engineering It: Al-Shatibi’s Guidance on relevance in Usul al-Fiqh Studies

May 17, 2023

Consider the process of teaching someone to cook rice. You wouldn’t initially throw them into a deep discussion about the variations among Fahrenheit, Celsius, and…
Photo by Abdulmeilk Aldawsari:

Is it Forbidden to Pay Riba? Or is it only forbidden to charge it?

September 8, 2022

Recently someone presented to me the opinion or the assumption that it’s not forbidden to pay interest, it’s only forbidden to take interest claiming that…

Personal Finance: What is your net worth?

August 24, 2022

So you’re wondering what your net worth is. Your net worth is essentially everything you own minus everything that you owe. So if you have…

NFTs: Non-Fungible Tokens – A Very Simple Explanation

November 19, 2021

NFTs give you something that can’t be copied. Not a picture itself (anyone can take a screenshot). Here we’re going to use art as an…

When is staking your crypto allowed?

November 16, 2021

There are three situations in the market currently where they use the word “staking” but mean something different each time. You need to learn what’s…

What makes a crypto coin Shariah Compliant?

November 16, 2021

For those of you concerned with the Shariah compliance of the coins you are buying, Asking yourself these 5 questions will help guide your coin…

Zakat on Assets – A Quick Review

April 12, 2021

Let’s talk Zakat on Assets: – 1st, assets you do not pay Zakat on. – 2nd, assets you do pay Zakat on. – 3rd, deductions and expenses that…

Is SAFE document Equity Conversion Shariah Compliant?

March 23, 2021

SAFE documents are not loans. They are warrants for future equity. The structure found in the SAFE agreement is permissible and offers a viable, interest-free…

Book Excerpt – The Greatest Gifts

June 10, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a collection of short essays I’ve been writing over the last few years, each one encapsulates an event in…