Mature Students

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Salam. Please find some brief accounts of scholars who began their quest for knowledge at a relatively later stage of their live’s, Inshallah should be encouragement for us that we should never give up nor feel we are too old to learn.
Just reflect on how many people in terms of ‘dunyawi’ knowledge enroll on degrees, courses and training? they never feel they are too old for ‘professional development’. Yes I do agree that we need to have courses which are tailored for part time students, including those who maybe classified as ‘old’. How many a students resolve to learn has been broken by poorly arranged, structured (and sad to say) delivered courses? Knowledge is one thing and ability to teach in an effective way is another.
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A Mature Grammarian: al-Kasai
Imam al-Dhahabi mentioned in his ‘al-Siyar’ (9/131-134):
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Al-Farra said: Al-Kasai learnt grammar (nahw) when he was old
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Imam al-Dhahabi commented:
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Al-Kasai held a high position with al-Rashid, and taught his son al-Amin. He attained status and wealth, and I have written about him in a number of places…He travelled with al-Rashid, and passed away in al-Rayy in the village of Aranbuwayah in the year 189 aged 70 years.
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A Locksmith Turned Faqih (Jurist): al-Qaffal al-Shafi
Imam al-Dhahabi said regarding Abu Bakr Abdullah bin Ahmad al-Marwazi in his ‘al-Siyar’ (17/405-408):
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He was skilled in the manufacturing of locks such that he made a lock with its parts and key which weighed four habbat. When he was 30 years of age, he noticed in himself an intelligence which was being wasted. He loved fiqh, and focussed on its study until he excelled in it such that he became pointed out as an example…
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The jurist Nasir al-Umari said: There was no one more knowledgeable than Abu Bakr al-Qaffal in his time, and there will not be after him the like of him. We used to say: He is an angel in the form of human who narrates and dictates. He was a leader in fiqh, and an example in zuhd.
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Makruh Times of Prayer and Confusion: Ibn Hazm al-Dhahiri
Finally, all those who have studied some basic fiqh will know that there are specific rules as to when one should pray and then conversely this very same act of obedience at certain times of the day becomes disliked!, which incidentally is one of the needs of fiqh – as how can an act of worship become an act of disobedience at certain times?
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Imam al-Dhahabi mentioned in his ‘al-Siyar’ (18/184-212):
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Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Tarkhan al-Turki said: Imam Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin Muhammad -meaning the father of Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi- said to me: Abu Muhammad bin Hazm informed me that the cause for his learning fiqh was that he attended a funeral prayer, he entered the masjid and sat without praying. A man said to him: Stand and offer the greeting of the masjid (tahiyyah al-masjid), he had at the time reached 26 years of age. He said: So I stood and and prayed.
When we returned from the funeral prayer I entered the masjid, I hastened to pray and it was said to me: sit, sit, this is not the time for prayer- and this was after asr-. He said: I left and was saddened, and I said to my to teacher who had taught me: guide me towards the house of the jurist (faqih) Abu Abdullah bin Dahun. He said: I went to him and informed him of what had happened, he guided me to the ‘Muwatta’ of Malik, and I started (its study) with him, and I continued reading to him and others for around three years…
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Adapted from ‘al-Fawaid al-Gharra’
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