Seeking Knowledge…! Seeking Allah!
Many times I have read and heard people talking about the emphasis on knowledge in Islam. I, being a woman of the 21st century, have always considered myself ‘educated’ and never bothered to learn what exactly Islam means by gaining knowledge.
Some feel and say it is just pure religious knowledge; and some say we are acquiring worldly knowledge and as far as religious knowledge is concerned, only few are meant for it. But when I sat and pondered, I realized that both dunya (worldly) knowledge and religious knowledge are essential according to Islam. Both are interrelated.
Having worldly knowledge helps one to appreciate and understand Allah’s Creation, His attributes, His Word and His Prophet. Acquiring religious knowledge helps us live better in this world, and to understand it more completely. Both depend on each other, it is really not wise to segregate knowledge into two different things. A doctor once said:
“When I was a kid, I used to run away from Islam as I was not taught the real beauty of it and I always felt it was a mere ritualistic religion . But now after becoming a student of science, I JUST love Islam. Now I am a doctor and I sometimes used to wonder: when I read the Qur’an, everything I learnt is right here in the Qur’an, and I wondered whether I wasted all these years trying to study Science…every minute detail is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Then I realized, if I had not studied science I would not have really understood what is mentioned in the Qur’an regarding science.”
One of my friends who had just discovered the beauty of Islam told me:
“When I started learning about Islam, I started off with learning about the Miracles mentioned in the Quran. I was in awe for all of them but to be honest, I was not able to understand or appreciate a few of the Ayah, for example, 11th verse of Surah at-Tariq in the Quran, referring to the ‘returning’ function of the sky. [‘By the Heavens, with its cyclical system.’ (Surah At-Tariq: 11)]. I wasn’t able to understand what it was talking about until I read the following in the book, Miracles of the Qur’an by Harun Yahya:
The word interpreted as “cyclical” in the Qur’an translation also has a meaning of “sending back” or “returning.” As known, the atmosphere surrounding the Earth consists of many layers. Each layer serves an important purpose for the benefit of life. Research has revealed that these layers have the function of turning the materials or rays to which they are exposed back into space or back down to the Earth.
But my friend, who is doing her Masters in Geography (one of her allied subjects was on Atmosphere), understood that Ayah immediately, and was able to appreciate Allah’s (swt) words.”
Thus, when we gain worldly knowledge along with spiritual knowledge, the two types of knowledge reinforce each other, and make each other clearer. Therefore, we are able to appreciate Allah’s (swt) words in a better way.
Islam itself is a religion based on knowledge and will never be tolerant towards any form of ignorance. Islam is a religion which is based on questioning and reasoning. It can never overlook any form of blind imitation (taqlid) without questioning or reasoning. When one blindly imitates others in the name of religion, one is not following Islam but simply following the person or thing that is being imitated, and that apparently takes one away from the path of Allah. Apparently, ignorance can be replaced only with knowledge and only through knowledge can one reach the Truth.
- Striving to attain knowledge is considered as a great act of piety in Islam. In Islam ignorance is highly condemned.
We can say one is highly polluted when they are ignorant and one can purify oneself, both in this world and the hereafter, only through attaining knowledge.
- Elevated status is accorded to those who seek, possess, teach and act upon knowledge. Dismiss any thought of equality between those who know and those who do not (Ref. H.Q: 39:9)
- The Prophet (s.a.w.s) has said: “Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim (male and female).” (Sahih Bukhari)
In Islam great emphasis is given to the acquisition of knowledge in one’s life. Many verses in the Quran emphasize the importance of learning in one’s life. The first revelation of the Quran inspired the Prophet (s.a.w.s) of Islam to acquire knowledge and stressed the importance of learning. This first revelation went as follows:
1. Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists),
2. Has created man from a clot (a piece of chewed-like-lump of flesh).
3. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous
4. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)],
5. Has taught man that which he knew not. (Surah Al-Alaq; verses 1 to 5)
Every human being has been blessed with the power of learning and understanding. Allah (swt) has given each of us a free will (which itself is a test) and each one of us is born with the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Without knowledge we cannot get closer to Allah (swt). Allah (swt), advices the Prophet (s.a.w.s) to pray for increasing his knowledge.
- Let us pray ‘Rabbi Zidni Ilma!’ (‘O Lord! Increase me in knowledge.’) (H.Q. 20, Ayah 114)
- We can come across many verses in the Quran and the hadith or statements made by the Sahabahs, in full reference to the importance of knowledge, and not only that, it also encourages one to expand one‘s knowledge in every aspect of life.
- The Prophet (s.a.w.s) taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on his behalf by a righteous off-spring. (Sahih Muslim)
- A person who has an understanding of religion (faqih) is more formidable against Satan than a thousand of worshippers (statement of Ibn Abbas)
- “Allah, His angels, the occupant of the heaven and earth, even the ant in its hole, and even the fish, pray for the teachers who teaches goodness.” (Tirmidhi and others, authenticated by Al-Albani)
- “Whoever takes a path for knowledge, Allah will make an easy way for him to paradise” and “the virtue of the scholar over (the ignorant) worshipper is as the virtue of the full moon over the stars.” (Ibn Majah, and authenticated by Al-Albani)
The pursuit of knowledge is itself a form of worship. According to the Qur’an only men of knowledge really fear Allah most.
- Positive fear of God (taqwa) can be attained only by those who have knowledge (H.Q 35:28). One of the indispensable conditions in relation to the spiritual state of the soul, in getting closer to Allah, is the attainment of knowledge. Indeed, it is only through knowledge that we can appreciate Allah’s (swt) qualities.
- The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “For him who adopts a path of seeking knowledge, Allah eases the way in Paradise, and Angels spread their wings for the seekers of knowledge, being pleased with his occupation, and all that is in the heavens and the Earth including the fish in the water, ask for his forgiveness. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets and the Prophets do not leave an inheritance of dirhams and dinars, but only of knowledge. He who acquires knowledge acquires a vast portion.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)
There is a misconception among many people that it is impossible for just anyone to attain knowledge i.e. they say only certain people have the quality to acquire knowledge and only certain people possess Hikmah (wisdom) and that they are the only ones who should strive to acquire knowledge. We should remember that nothing is impossible when one strives to attain the right knowledge as enjoined by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, and we should remember that everyone can benefit even from a little knowledge, and that a little knowledge is surely better than none at all.
It is also important that we should get to know the etiquettes expected from the one who seeks this knowledge. Just attaining knowledge is not enough. One has to act upon what one learns. Many of the Sahabah have said that knowledge without practice is not true knowledge.
- One of the most important issues is the priority of seeking knowledge to actions and deeds; knowledge must come before deeds because knowledge is the guide and because deeds without knowledge are definitely subject to error innovation, and misleading.
Among the signs of the Day of Judgment are the increase of ignorance, and the disappearance of knowledge.
“Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, ‘The Hour (Last Day) will not be established until (religious) knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious learned men), earthquakes will be very frequent, time will pass quickly, afflictions will appear, murders will increase and money will overflow amongst you.’” (Volume 2, Book 17, No. 146; also see Hadith No. 85, Volume 1).
“Knowledge is better than wealth – knowledge is a protection for you whereas it is you that has to protect wealth.” (As mentioned by Ali ibn Abi Talib)
He has sent them Messengers inspired with Books, and has revealed to them signs of His greatness and wonders of His power which testify to His Lordship and Divinity. Allah’s Mercy is apparent as He has taught us how to get closer to Him so that we would be successful in this world and in the hereafter, inshaAllah.
Let us pray that Allah helps us to strive to our best to increase our knowledge and to act upon that which would help us to become successful in this life and the hereafter. Ameen!
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