*Memorizing Knowledge – Imaam Nawawi, Imaam Shafi, Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen*
Imam Nawawi rahimahullah said:
“Imam Shafi’ee rahimahullah said in Risaala [pg. 19]:
“The right upon the students of knowledge is to expend the utmost of their efforts in increasing in knowledge and being patient from every contrary issue other than seeking it. And [he should have] sincerity in the intention, making it for Allah, the Exalted in attaining knowledge of both the [Legislated] texts and deriving proofs along with hoping that Allah will aid him upon it.
In Saheeh Muslim it is reported on the authority of Yahya ibn Abi Kathir rahimahullah that he said: “Knowledge cannot be attained through the relaxation of the body”.
He mentioned it in the beginning of the timings for the prayer. Khateeb al-Baghdaadi rahimahullah said: “The best time to memorize is the last parts of the night, then the middle day, then the morning. And memorizing at night is more beneficial than the memorization of the day. The time when one is hungry is more beneficial than the time when one is satiated. The best place to memorize is in a room and every place that is far away from distractions. It is not praiseworthy to memorize in the presence of plants, greenery, rivers, and in the middle of the street, because it prevents, in most cases, the heart from being free”.
Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen rahimahullah said:
“This is strange. I think everyone [memorizes] according to his [preference]. Memorizing in the last parts of the night is best and some students in the exam days sleep early, wake up early, and then review in the last part of the night. Such a student says: my review in the last parts of the night is a lot better than reviewing before sleeping. Our colleagues/classmates have informed us about this likewise. “Then the middle of the day and morning”: the middle of the day is dhuhr time and the morning is the first part of the forenoon. The one who thinks that the morning is better than the middle of the day is due to the middle of the day being the time for the Qayloolah [nap], specifically in the summer, and [it is also a time] of fatigue. This is what happens to me so I say: perhaps this differs in accordance to different people.
Memorization at night is better than memorization in the day: this is correct. However, we tried [ourselves] memorizing after asr and then at the dawn time to repeat it and it was more established [than other times]. This is because the people in our time do not have lanterns/lamps [used in the earlier times]. Nowadays, the night is like the day. Rather it [night] is day for many people. Many people stay up at night until fajr and sleep until dhuhr. However, a person in our time sleeping early after isha prayer then waking up at the dawn time to repeat what he memorized at asr time, will find complete accuracy [in what he memorized].
He said: “the time when one is hungry is more beneficial than the time when one is satiated”: this is because the heart is more clear. If a person is full, laziness and fatigue will enter into him. So like that, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
بحسب ابن آدم أكلات يقمن صلبه، فإن كان لا محالة؛ فتلث لطعامه وثلث لشرابه، وثلث لنفسه
A few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for his breathing
[Saheeh Tirmidhi no. 2380]
However, with that there is no harm in being satiated sometimes as Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) did.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) was very hungry and he used to go to his Companions to ask them for accommodation [and food]. However, no one spoke to him. He said: then Abul-Qasim (ﷺ) came and he knew what was on my face. So he requested to follow him and brought some milk. The people drank until no one remained except Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) who was the last person. So he drank and drank. And the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Drink! O Abu Hirr. He said: By Allah I have no more space [i.e. I am full]”
[Reported by Bukhari no.5274]
Therefore, the meaning is he filled his stomach. however, this is sometimes. What is important is that a person memorizing when he is hungry is better than when he is full.
He said: “The best place to memorize is in a room and every place that is far from distractions. That is: everyone being alone in his room, in a room above or in a room below, this is better because this is further away from distractions. “It is not praiseworthy to memorize in the in the presence of plants, greenery, and rivers” What is your opinion on that? Some people nowadays, if they want to memorize something or review something, go out to the open land where there are plants, rivers, and valleys and they find in this comfort/relaxation. However, in reality, a person is overcome by these affairs and scenes. No doubt his heart will not be free for memorization because he loves to rest/relax. As for a person [for] who [all settings] are the same [to him], then this is something different. What is apparent, therefore, is that we return to the first principle and it is that [memorization] differs according to different people. As for the middle of the streets, then yes a person wanting to memorize and then going in the streets where people are selling greens/vegetables, then this is not possible. This is because it will prevent the heart, in most cases, from being free”
[Sharh Muqaddimah al-Majmoo’ (pg. 146-147]
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan