“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not” (Qur’an – 96:1-5)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “God, His angels and all those in Heavens and on Earth, even ants in their hills and fish in the water, call down blessings on those who instruct others in beneficial knowledge.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 422

The Attitude of the Quran and the Holy Prophet (pbuh) towards Knowledge:

Islam is a religion based upon knowledge for it is ultimately knowledge of the Oneness of God combined with faith and total commitment to Him that saves man. The text of the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Such sayings of the Prophet as “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, and “Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets”, have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books. Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society.

  • “Read” was the first word to be revealed from the Qur’an. The verses above demonstrate the importance that Islam has dedicated to science and knowledge of Almighty Allah 1400 years ago.
  • Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allaah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhaari)

Islam calls people to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of Sharee’ah (Islamic Law), then other fields of knowledge, such as medicine, etc.

This is the knowledge (Sharee’ah) with which Allaah honoured His Messenger Muhammed (pbuh); He taught it to him (pbuh) so that he (pbuh) might teach it to mankind:

“Indeed, Allaah conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Quran), and purifying them (from sins by their following him), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Quran) and Al-Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet (i.e. his legal ways, statements and acts of worship)], while before that they had been in manifest error” [Quran, 3:164]

There are around 750 verses in the Qur’an that encourage us to think about the universe that surrounds us and all that has been created within it and placed at our disposal.

This indisputably shows that Qur’an emphasizes and promotes the study of the universe.
Thus pursuing knowledge in a particular field of science that would help alleviate the pains of humanity and advance human progress is highly applauded and appreciated in Islam. Allah has made it a duty for Muslims to excel in all fields of life; science, knowledge, business, industry, charity and political activism. It is our duty to serve justice and humanity. It is our duty as Muslims to develop this world and make it a better place for everyone.

Why Knowledge

The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to our Creator. It is not simply for the gratification of the mind or the senses. It is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals.

One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.
The importance of education is a non disputable matter. Education is the knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use. One can safely say that a human being is not in the proper sense till he/she is educated.

This importance of education is basically for two reasons.

  • The first is that the training of a human mind is not complete without education. Education makes man a right thinker. It tells man how to think and how to make decision.
  • The second reason for the importance of education is that only through the attainment of education, man is enabled to receive information from the external world; to acquaint himself with past history and receive all necessary information regarding the present. Without education, man is as though in a closed room and with education he finds himself in a room with all its windows open towards the outside world.

 

This is why Islam attaches great importance to knowledge and education. When the Quran began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read.

 

Knowledge brings a great reward. The one who points the way to something good is like the one who does it. When the knowledgeable person dies, his reward with Allaah does not cease when he dies, rather it continues to increase so long as people benefit from his knowledge.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three — an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Muslim)

Etiquettes of Acquiring Knowledge:

One of the great scholars lbn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah said: “There are six stages to knowledge:

I.            Firstly: Asking questions in a good manner

II.            Secondly: Remaining quiet and listening attentively

III.            Thirdly: Understanding well

IV.            Fourthly: Memorizing

V.            Fifthly Teaching

VI.            Sixthly- and it is its fruit: Acting upon the knowledge and keeping to its limits.”

According to Quranic perspective, knowledge is a prerequisite for the creation of a just world in which authentic peace can prevail. In the case of country’s disorder or war the Quran emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of learning.

Allaah says (what means): “Nor should the believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them – that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).” [Quran – 19:122]

Seeking beneficial knowledge: The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) used to say in his supplications: “Allaahumma innee a‘oothu bika min ‘Ilmin la-yanfa‘, wa ‘amalin laa yurfa‘, wa-min du‘aa’in laa yusma‘ (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from knowledge that does not benefit, deeds that are not accepted and a supplication that is not answered.)” [Ahmad]

Applying what one learned; Allaah The Almighty Disapproved of those who do not apply what they know and likened them to donkeys that carry (heavy loads of) books, but do not understand what they carry. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books].} [Quran 62:5]

Study of Science and Technology:

The study of science and technology is of utmost importance to the upliftment of nations and civilizations. The world is in desperate need of this knowledge. Almighty Allah says in more than one place in the Qur’ân: “It is He who has produced you from the Earth and settled you therein.”

Almighty Allah is telling us that he has made us to live on Earth for the duration of our lives and we are supposed to develop it, cultivate it, and thrive in it. How are we expected to do this if we do not know what will better our lives and what will bring harm to us?

Almighty Allah says: “And when the Prayer is finished, then may you disperse through the land, and seek of the bounty of Allah: and celebrate the praises of Allah often that you may prosper.” (Qur’an 62:10). Here Allah is talking about commerce, investment, and economic development.

Allah says: “It is He who has made the Earth manageable for you, so traverse through its tracts and enjoy of the sustenance which He furnishes: but unto Him is the Resurrection.” (Qur’an 67:15). This verse alludes to agriculture, land development, and traveling in search of Allah’s bounty.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If the Final Hour arrives while one of you has a sapling in his hand and he can finish planting it before standing up, then he should do so.” (Musnad Ahmad)

In the field of medicine, the Prophet said: “Every disease has a remedy. If the remedy is applied to the disease, the patient will be cured by Allah’s permission.” (Sahîh Muslim)

He also said: “Allah did not send down a disease without sending down a cure for it.” (Sahîh al-Bukhârî )

A desert dweller once asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “What type of people are the best?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “The best of them in moral character.”

The man then asked: “O Messenger of Allah, should we seek medical treatment?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Seek medical treatment, for truly Allah as not send down a disease without sending down a cure for it. Those who have knowledge of the cure know it, and those who are ignorant of it do not.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) referred to medical knowledge as knowledge and to a lack of it as ignorance. He encouraged us to use our minds and our resources to seek out the cures to the diseases that plague us by telling us that those cures are out there for us to discover and make use of.

Some action points to gain knowledge for self and children:

 

  1.  1.   Read at least one book each month. Do you know that scientific research showed that people with higher than average intelligence usually read a significant number of books a year? Research also shows that there is a clear relationship between reading and the development of our mental abilities. It goes without saying that you need to choose the best possible books and research to read.
  2.  2.   Pursue high academic qualifications that could benefit you, your family and the whole world. Be a role model for others. Achieve and inspire.
  3.  3.   Teach children in your mosque or community centre – if you have the right credentials. Help them improve their educational standards.
  4.  4.   Always implant the seeds of ambition, persistence, hard work, excellence and success as core values of Islam in your children. Parents have a very important role in empowering their children. If you are a parent, you should let your children explore their own full potential. Give them the freedom and the sufficient resources to pursue their dreams. Learn from successful parents and share your success.
  5.  5.   Don’t ever insult or hit your children. This is very harmful to their self esteem and self confidence. Always make them feel appreciated and loved. There are plenty of methods that you can use to discipline your child without using violence, shouting, screaming, yelling and bad language.
  6.  6.   Have an open mind; a questioning and curious spirit. Don’t limit your thoughts by being dogmatic or intolerant of others’ ideas. On the contrary, the Qur’an always asks us to think, to wonder, to question, to learn and to seek knowledge. Similarly, encourage your children to think and be free. That’s a core Islamic value. Have open discussions with your kids. Let them research and learn to seek knowledge independently.

7.   Have useful and educational toys and books in the house. Read for yourself and read for your children. Guide them to enjoy reading and learning as this will reflect on their educational performance. In a biography of a very successful doctor, he pointed out that one of the most important factors that led to his professional and academic excellence was that his mother habituated him to read books everyday and write what he learnt for her.

                                                                                

Throughout the Qur’an one can find a strong emphasis on the value of knowledge in the Islamic faith. The Qur’an encourages Muslims to learn and acquire knowledge, stemming from, but not limited to, the Muslim emphasis on knowing the unity of God. Because Muslims believe that Allah is all-knowing, they also believe that the human world’s quest for knowledge leads to further knowing of Allah. Muslims must thus pursue knowledge not only of God’s laws, but of the natural world as well, extending the frontiers of human knowledge. Unlike the revealed knowledge of the Qur’an, Muslims believe that human knowledge is not perfect, and requires constant exploration and advancement through research and experimentation. According to the Qur’an, learning and gaining knowledge is the highest form of religious activity for Muslims, and the one which is most pleasing to God.

“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees.” [Qur’an – 58:11]

“My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” [Qur’an – 20:114]

We have a choice in this world. We can either get addicted to this world, which we will leave after 60-80 years of life along with everything in it, or we can get addicted to seeking knowledge, which will reap heavy rewards on the Day of Judgement (Life after death). The path of this world leads us away from Almighty Allah, and the path of knowledge leads us towards Almighty Allah. Likewise, the path of this world destroys our Hereafter, and the path of knowledge secures our Hereafter. The choice is entirely ours… Are you ready for seeking beneficial knowledge?

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