knowledge leads to perfection

The Concept of Knowledge in Islam

Allah is the first teacher and the absolute guide of humanity. Islam is a religion based upon knowledge which is ultimately the knowledge of the Oneness of God combined with faith and total commitment to Him. Knowledge is not mere information; it requires the believers to act upon their beliefs and commit themselves to the goals which Islam aims at attaining. However, Today, the spirit of science in the Muslim world is as dry as the desert. Allah says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ النُّجُومَ لِتَهْتَدُوا بِهَا فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

“And He (is) the One Who made for you the stars that you may guide yourselves with them in the darkness[es] (of) the land and the sea. Certainly, We have made clear the Signs for people (who) know. (Surah Al-Anam, 6:97)

In the Quranic view, the mainstay, as well as the source spring of all knowledge, is Allah. He is Omniscient, All-knowing, and All-seeing. His knowledge is permanent, all-comprehensive, all-pervading, that is absolute. He knows each and everything including all pros and cons, all before and after. Muslims in the golden age has contributed to the world with tremendous invention like algebra, astronomy, medicine and many others. That invention still is beneficial knowledge right now. Allah says:

قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ٱلْغَيْبَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ

Say: “None in the heavens or on the earth has knowledge of the Unseen save Allah. They do not know when they will be raised to life.” (Surah An-Naml 27:65)

Knowledge in the Islamic perspective is not just a theory of epistemology. It combines knowledge, insight, and social action as its ingredients. Islam never forbids Muslims to learn foreign knowledge, in fact, it is highly recommended. Muslim countries just produce fewer engineers or scientists than a west civilization that produce a huge engineer or scientist. When the Quran began to be revealed, the first word of its first verse was ‘Iqra’ that is, read. Allah says:

الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

“who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and donate from what We have provided for them.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:3)

Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledgeEducation is the starting point of every human activity. Allah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and wisdom. Islam is a religion that appreciates knowledge, first ayah in Islam guides the prophet Muhammad to read, and what went wrong? probably Muslims in this century don’t understand the importance of knowledge in Islam.

Here are some important pleasures of seeking knowledge:

  1. Knowledge has benefits in this world and also in the hereafter
  2. Seeking knowledge is to bring us closer to our Creator Allah
  3. Knowing what is permissible and impermissible in daily life
  4. Seeking knowledge is better than any value in the world
  5. knowledge is pleasant, appropriate, and gives pleasure
  6. Knowledge earns great rewards even after death
  7. Knowledge is the base of our lives and religious
  8. Knowledge protects us from many difficulties
  9. It is obligatory for all to seek knowledge
  10. Seeking knowledge to benefit oneself 
  11. Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave
  12. Islam recommends Muslims seek knowledge
  13. Dedicate a specific time for acquiring knowledge
  14. Islam gives too much importance to seeking knowledge
  15. Quran emphasizes the importance of seeking knowledge
  16. Knowledge accordingly must be linked to values and goals
  17. Islam gives importance to the process of seeking knowledge
  18. Knowledge is obligatory for men, young and old, rich and poor
  19. Islam has made seeking the knowledge necessary for all Muslims
  20. Islam emphasizes the great importance of knowledge and education

Islam is a religion that invites its followers to exercise their intellect and make use of their knowledge to attain the ultimate truth. Muslim thinkers adopted different paths to attain this goal. Having knowledge could be spared humans from arrogant character and form humble character. Allah has promised humans who seek knowledge that Allah will grant him high ranks in the world and hereafter. Allah says:

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِّنْهُ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And He has subjected to you whatever (is) in the heavens and whatever (is) in the earth – all from Him. Indeed, in that surely are Signs for a people who give thought. (Surah Al-Jathiyah, 45: 13)

Knowledge is more important than wealth, property, women and many others. And Allah wants the Prophet Muhammad to pray for knowledge not anything else like wealth and the others. Gaining knowledge is a command for every Muslim in the world and Allah want human to pray for it because knowledge is more important than anything else in the world. If we share our knowledge with each other then that knowledge can make someone do beneficial things, and we can get tremendous rewards even if we die.

The importance of knowledge in the light of Islam:

  • Helps you to solve problems: Good Knowledge can help us to solve the problem easier
  • Understanding yourself: if we know well about ourselves, we could do the right way for ourselves and another
  • Guide us to the right way: Well known about something can lead us to the right action
  • The successor of Muslim intellectuals: We are successors in our history so we must know much knowledge around the world
  • Restore the glory of the Islamic civilization: The way to restore our glory is by gaining knowledge
  • Learning better: If you know the knowledge about something you will better to learning about something that related to your knowledge
  • Learn complex things faster: More knowledge can make it easy to solve complex things
  • Learn from the mistakes in the past: History can make you choose the right decision in the future
  • Bring power to life: Knowledge can give you more power than the other
  • Contributed to serve humanity: Much beneficial knowledge that helps humanity problems around the world

knowledge of the proof of God’s existence, his attributes, and that which is incumbent in relation to Him and prohibited against Him. Islam has to lead the world in a golden age. And it’s not a legend or myth. West civilization acknowledges that Muslim scientists have given a great and tremendous invention to the world,  in that age Islam’s countries are the most modern civilization in the world. We should also be able to understand clearly the mission, which our beloved Prophet (saw) came into this world to fulfil.

The Concept of Knowledge in the Quran, Allah Almighty says;

  • “And Allah taught Adam all the names…” (Quran 2:31)
  • “As God has taught him, so let him write.” (Quran 2:282)
  • “And say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” (Quran 20:114)
  • “It is only those who know His servants that fear Allah.” (Quran 35:28)
  • “It is only those who have knowledge among His servants that fear Allah.” (Quran 35:28)
  • “God will exalt by (many) degrees those of you who have attained to faith…” (Surah 58:11)

The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to our Creator. And one of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, and arrogance; to seek knowledge is a sacred duty, and it is obligatory for every Muslim. A person without knowledge is like someone walking along a track in complete darkness. 

‏وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلَّيْلَ لِبَاسًۭا وَٱلنَّوْمَ سُبَاتًۭا وَجَعَلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ نُشُورًۭا

“It is He who made the night a veil for you and sleep for rest, and the day a time for rising.” (Surat Al-Furqan 25:47)

Knowledge is identified in Islam as worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Quran and pondering upon it is worship, and travelling to gain knowledge is worship. Not only should we seek knowledge, but when we learn it, it becomes obligatory for us to practice it.  Every one of us, young or old, man or woman, should at least acquire sufficient knowledge to enable ourselves to understand the essence of the teachings of the Quran and the purpose for which it has been sent down. Allah says:

فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا

“So high (above all) (is) Allah the King, the True. And (do) not hasten with the Quran before [that] is completed to you its revelation, and say, “My Lord! Increase me (in) knowledge.”  (Surah Taha 20:114)

Knowledge in the Quran places importance both on knowledge in itself as well as the importance of seeking knowledge and the virtue of the one who acquires it. There are many types of knowledge and the field of knowledge is vast. However, the knowledge that the Quran and Islam emphasize is the knowledge that leads us to God and brings us closer to Him. May Allah give us strength to behave and act just as He likes us to do and be pleased with us, and that should be the purpose of our lives.