About the Author
Imam al-Zarnuji is known by the agnomen Burhan al-Islam al-Zarnuji, which became so closely associated with him that his actual name is not known for sure. However, collections of biographies have him as al-Nu'man ibn Ibrahim al-Zarnuji. He hails from Zarnuj, a well-known town beyond the river Oxus in what is now Turkistan. He studied with many teachers including: the illustrious Shaykh 'Ali ibn Abi Bakr al-Marghiyani al-Rushdani (the author of al-Hidaya); Shaykh Abu al-Muhamid Qawaduddin Hammad ibn Ibrahim al-Saffar; the great Shaykh hasan ibn Mansur Qadiykhani; and others.This book, "Ta'lim al-Muta'alim" ("Instruction of the Student"), is the only book he is known to have authored. The exact date of his death is unknown, though
This is a remarkable volume that touches upon the method by which a student learns Islam in a meaningful and lasting way. Its author, Imam al-Zarnuji, has attracted the attention of Western men of learning for centuries, as they tried to decipher the secret behind the stunning educational success of Islamic civilization. Imam al-Zarnuji captured the essence of what it takes to be truly immersed in scholarship and the noble enterprise of learning.
Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani said: "Learn! for learning is an adornment for one who possesses it, a virtue and a prelude to every praiseworthy action. Profit each day by increasing [your] learning and swimming in the seas of beneficial knowledge. Give yourself up to the study of jurisprudence, for the knowledge of jurisprudence is the best guide to piety and the fear of God, and it is the straightest path to the ultimate goal. It is the milestone leading to the ways of proper guidance; it is the fortress that saves [one] from all hardships. Indeed, one godly person versed in jurisprudence is more powerful against Satan than a thousand [ordinary] worshippers."
"This book should be a starting point for the revival of the Islamic intellectual tradition that has always been the preamble to Islamic Renaissance," writes Hamza Yusuf in his foreword to the book.
Excerpt From The Book:
Earnestness, perseverance, and assiduity are indispensable in the quest for knowledge. This is indicated in the Quran, in the very words of God, the Exalted, Those who have earnestly striven in Our cause, We shall surely guide them to Our ways (29:69); and O John [Yahya], take the Book with power (19:12). It is said that he who seeks something and is industrious [in so doing] shall find it; and he who knocks at the door and is persistent shall enter. And it is said that you will reach what you desire [only] to the extent that you pursue it. It is said as well that the industriousness of three kinds of people is essential in [the pursuit of] knowledge and understanding: the student, the teacher, and the father, if he is among the living.