Quest of knowledge | By Abdul Rasool Syed


Quest of knowledge

ISLAM lays colossal emphasis on seeking knowledge. Its importance can be realized from the very fact that the very first verse of the Holy Quran that begins with the word of “IQRA”, as revealed to Holy Prophet (SAWW), contained the definite commandment of getting knowledge.

Additionally, if we look at the first five verses revealed from the Holy Qur’an, we can see that the word “IQRA” (read) is repeated two times, the word “ QALAM” (pen) is mentioned once and the word “ALM” (teach) is repeated twice.

Moreover, we also find a plethora of traditions of Holy Prophet (SAW) that have direct or indirect admonishments of acquiring knowledge. In one of the traditions, Holy Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim man and woman.” (Al-Tirmidhi).

This obligation is not limited to certain sex or class but it is also important and obligatory for women as for men, young and old, rich and poor. Whoever seeks knowledge and help other people to learn will get astonishing rewards from Allah Almighty. Allah will grant him/her high ranks in this world and the Hereafter.

Allah, Almighty says in Noble Quran: “Allah raises of those who believe and those who have been given knowledge of many levels.”(Quran 58:11).

In Islam, Knowledge is more important than wealth and property. No wonder, knowledge is among the important things which Allah; the sublime directed the Last Prophet (M) (PBUH) to pray for. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: “And say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.”

(Qur’an 20:114) We ask the Almighty, the compassionate, all the time for paradise; seeking knowledge is one of the things that will surely lead us to paradise.

The Last Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah makes his way easy to paradise.” (Bukhari) Teaching others is also considered one of the good deeds that will get us great rewards even after death.

Whoever leaves behind beneficial knowledge will get rewards as long as people are still getting benefits from his knowledge.

The Last Prophet (M-PBUH) said: “When a man dies all his deeds come to an end except for three: an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge and a righteous son who prays for him.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurraira reports that Holy Prophet once remarked:” Whoever takes a path upon which to obtain knowledge, the Almighty makes the path to Paradise easy for him.”

It is also reported by Zirr bin Hubaish that, “I went to Safwan bin ‘Assal Al-Muradi and he said: ‘What brought you here?’ I said: ‘I am seeking knowledge.’ He said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “There is no one who goes out of his house in order to seek knowledge, but the angels lower their wings in approval of his action.”

In addition, seeking knowledge is also one of the means of getting purification of sin. The Last Prophet (SAWW) declared such a person who goes out for seeking knowledge is superior to one who sits at home and pray.

At another place, the messenger of the Almighty said: “The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). When the full moon is not around, the stars shine, but when it is out, it outshines them and the stars can hardly be seen.”

However, it is an irony that while Islam recommends Muslims to seek knowledge, the Muslim countries are categorized among the less educated and under-developed countries in the world. In many Muslim countries, the literacy rate is abysmally low which is around 20 % to 30%.

Scientific research and education get a small portion of the yearly budgets in many Muslim countries.

However, this was not the case during the long history of the Muslim world. Muslim countries were once the most advanced countries on earth.

While the medieval centuries were well-known in the Western world as the Dark Ages, they were shining with knowledge and glory in the Muslim world. Public libraries, public hospitals and universities were located in different cities in the Muslim world.

Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Grenada were the centers of learning in the whole world. There were many Muslim scientists who had great achievements in different branches of science.

For example, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037) was a great physician and philosopher. Among his most famous works is The Book of Healing, a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopedia.

His book “The Canon of Medicine” was used as a standard medical text at many universities in Europe until the seventeenth century.

Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126-1198) stands out as a towering figure in the history of Arab-Islamic thought. He influenced scholarship in both the Islamic world and Europe for centuries, and is best known in the West for his commentaries on Aristotle’s philosophy.

Many of his books were used in European universities until the 19th Century. Al-Khwârizmî (Algoritmi) (780-850) was also a great Muslim mathematician and astronomer.

He wrote mathematical books that collected and arranged the discoveries of earlier mathematicians. Some words reflect the importance of Al-Khwarizmi’s contribution to mathematics.

“Algebra” is derived from al-jabr, one of the two operations; he used to solve quadratic equations.

Al-Farabi (Alpharabius) (870–950) was another renowned Muslim philosopher and one of the pre-eminent thinkers of Islam in the Middle Ages. He was regarded as the greatest philosophical authority after Aristotle.

As a philosopher and scientist, he acquired great proficiency in various branches of learning and is reported to have been an expert in different languages. To encapsulate, we, Muslims should once again strive hard to restore the lost glory of Islamic civilization.

We should embark on the quest of seeking scientific knowledge with renewed vigour and determination and take this endeavour as our religious obligation and human responsibility.

— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Quetta Balochistan.

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