Source: Sheikh Saaleh al-Fauzaan
1. The ruling regarding the acquisition of Sharee’ah knowledge is divided into two types: that which is an individual obligation and that which is a collective obligation. As for that which is an individual obligation to learn, it is the specific knowledge that the individual is ignorant of, without which that individual will not be able to establish the practice of his religion. This includes matters such as the knowledge of worshiping Allaah Alone and encompasses understanding the right of Allaah over His worshipers to worship Him alone without partners, and what it is necessary to affirm regarding His Names and Attributes, as well as the understanding of those matters which we must declare Him free of from defects and deficiencies.
Similarly, learning the rulings of how to perform the acts of worship properly, without which one’s worship will not be correct, and from these are the salaat- the ritual prayer, zakaat, the fasting of Ramadhaan, and the obligatory pilgrimage. While that which is a collective obligation to learn includes those matters that go beyond this foundation, examples of which are the ruling on everyday dealings, inheritance, marriages and agriculture transactions and other similar matters. As for second category, if its requirements are established sufficiently by it being learned by some individuals, then any sin of neglecting that obligation is removed from the remainder of the people.
And so continuing to study and learn these areas sufficiently, is from the best types of supplemental worship. Additionally, connected to religious knowledge are those subjects which will assist you in establishing the religion, such as the knowledge of Arabic grammar, Arabic language, history, and mathematics.
2. As for the learning of worldly knowledge, such as knowledge of manufacturing, then it is legislated to learn whatever the Muslims have a need for. If they do not have a need for this knowledge, then learning it is a neutral matter upon the condition that it does not compete with or displace any areas of Sharee’ah knowledge. Additionally, it can not be training or instruction in the manufacture of prohibited products such as musical instruments, products with forbidden images, knowledge related to the production of music, and so forth.
3. As for harmful knowledge, then it is forbidden to learn it. Indeed, it may be an act of disbelief, such as the learning of magic. As Allaah the Exalted says, ﴾ …but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic ﴿-( Surah Al-Baqarah :102)
- The Eminent Major Scholar Saaleh al-Fauzaan, may Allaah preserve him, from, “An Explanation of the Mistakes of Some Writers”, Pages 10-12