Published by Amatullah Abdullah on 2005/10/2 (2624 reads)
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.
The Glorious Qur’an says:
"Is one who worships devoutly during the hour of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord - (like one who does not)? Say: "Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition" [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:
Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created–
Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:
Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, -
He Who taught (the use of) the pen, -
Taught man that which he knew not. [96:1-5]
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), advises the Prophet (s.a.w.s) to pray for increasing his knowledge:
"O Lord! Increase me in knowledge." [20:114]
We can come across many verses in the Quran and the hadith or statements made by the Sahabas, 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, as reported by Imam Muslim. Ibn Abbas said that a person who has an understanding of religion (faqih) is more formidable against Satan than a thousand worshippers.
The Glorious Qur’an says:
"There is no god but He: That is the witness of God, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise." [3:18]
The Prophet (s.a.w.s) has said: "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 for knowledge is itself a form of worship. According to the Qur’an only people of knowledge really fear Allah most. Positive fear of God (taqwa) can be attained only by those who have knowledge (Qur’an 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 (s.a.w.s) has 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 Glorious 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.
The Prophet (s.a.w.s) has 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." [Sahih Bukhari]
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!
© Amatullah Abdullah 2005
Amatullah Abdullah is a freelance writer, who resides in Chennai, India. Her essays have been published in India, US, and UK. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and is currently working on her master's degree. Amatullah Abdullah is an editorial staff of IQRA Newspaper(US) and an active member of the Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of her works visit: http://writerinislam.blogspot.com
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