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The Importance of Learning the Fundamentals of Sciences


Source: Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen


The Importance of Learning the Fundamentals of Sciences 1 

(What follows is an excerpt from sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen’s explanation of his own primer on the fundamentals of Tafseer. The text of the book will be in bold font, while his explanation of that text will be in plain font.)

Indeed, one of the important affairs in any body of knowledge is for a person to learn its fundamental principles which can be an aid to him in comprehending that science and drawing conclusions based on those fundamentals. Thus his knowledge will be built on a strong foundation and sturdy pillars. For it is said, “Whoever is deprived of the foundations is prevented from the destination.”

And one of the greatest specialized bodies of knowledge – in fact, it is the greatest and most noble of them – is the science of al-Tafseer, which is the explanation of the meanings of Allah’s speech. And the people of knowledge have established fundamental principles for this science, just as they have established fundamental principles for the science of al-Hadeeth and fundamental principles for the science of al-Fiqh.

This segment includes a point about the importance of a person making his understanding of the various bodies of knowledge firmly established upon their fundamental principles – that is, the roots of the issues. This is because the fundamental principles are those things which piece together the secondary derived issues for him. Whoever devotes his attention to secondary derived issues rather than to the fundamental principles, then both the secondary derived issues and the fundamental principles will be beyond his grasp. This is because the secondary issues are like the leaves of a tree which fall off and blow away; but as for the fundamental principles, they are like the roots of a tree which ground it and make it firm.

Therefore, I encourage every student of knowledge to give importance to the fundamental principles, foundational matters, and rules of his discipline – in addition to the derived issues – and the comprehensive statements which encompass numerous issues. For I see some people – both from among the students of knowledge and besides them – whose focus is only on collecting up a mass of knowledge related only to the derived rulings on specific issues, so they might know 100 specific rulings or even more, but they don’t have any foundation on which these are based. So if you were to bring him some issue which differs from those for which he has already memorized the ruling, he would be unable to derive a ruling for it. For this reason, I encourage the student of knowledge to have knowledge of the fundamental principles. It is said, “Whoever is deprived of the foundations is prevented from the destination” – meaning: he will not reach his goal, and this is the truth.





  1. Source: Al-Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen: Sharh Usool Fee Tafseer
  2.  Translated by Khalil Klopfenstein 

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